The Charlotte News

Wednesday, October 7, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Panmunjom, the Communists this date accused the U.N. Command of stalling the start of explanations to war prisoners who had refused repatriation, and demanded an extension of the time limit of 90 days. The U.N. Command rejected the demand for more time and denied responsibility for the delay. The original start date for the explanations to be made to the prisoners resisting repatriation, in an effort to convince them to return to their homelands, had been September 26, but a dispute over facilities had stalled the start of the interviews. Nevertheless, the allies insisted that the Armistice had stated that the explanation period would end December 24, regardless of delays in its start date. The Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission chairman said the previous day that he agreed with the U.S. position. It was believed that the interviews would begin the following week, provided the allies finished work on the facilities in which the interviews would take place.

Conflicting statements had come from the Administration regarding the threat of a Russian nuclear attack on the country. Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson had the previous day stated that he did not believe the Communists could be ready to wage sustained war with nuclear weapons within three years, expressing doubt as to whether the Russians had produced an hydrogen bomb ready for use, saying he believed that the Russians were three or four years behind the U.S. in atomic weapon development. The Secretary had spoken only a few hours after the President had stated in Atlantic City to a women's church group that there was a grave danger of atomic attack on the U.S. Meanwhile, a written statement issued the previous weekend by Mobilization director Arthur Flemming had indicated that Russia was capable of delivering "suddenly and without warning the most destructive weapon ever devised by man" on chosen targets in the U.S., meaning, he said, the hydrogen bomb. But the Atomic Energy Commission had only said that Russia had tested a hydrogen "device" on August 12. Also during the weekend, Representative W. Sterling Cole of New York, chairman of the Joint Atomic Energy Committee, had stated on "Meet the Press" that Russia had enough "deliverable" hydrogen bombs to create real and imminent danger for the U.S. Civil Defense administrator Val Peterson had said that he was assuming that no one had a hydrogen bomb yet, distinguishing between a thermonuclear or hydrogen test "device" and a transportable bomb. The President, in his Atlantic City address, avoided any forecast as to time when the Russians would have an actual hydrogen bomb which would be deliverable.

In Washington, India Edwards resigned this date as director of women's activities for the DNC, but would continue as vice-chairman of the Committee. DNC chairman Stephen Mitchell appointed Katie Louchheim to replace Mrs. Edwards.

Dominating the front page this date was the news that the kidnaped six-year old boy from Kansas City, who had been missing for nine days, had been found dead in a shallow grave in St. Joseph, Mo., behind a house occupied by the two alleged kidnapers, a man and a woman. Both had long arrest records, and the male had been to prison for robbery, released on parole in April, 1953. A third individual, implicated by the male, was still at large, and his description, including several tattoos, one of which included his name, is provided. It turned out, despite denials by the boy's family, that they had paid a ransom of $600,000 in 10 and 20-dollar bills, stuffed in an Army duffel bag and thrown over a bridge the previous Sunday evening between Kansas City and St. Joseph, per instructions from the kidnapers. The father of the victim was a wealthy Cadillac dealer and distributor, and the family had asked the police to keep out of the situation, as they tried through private sources to locate the child. It turned out that the child had been shot and killed within an hour after the kidnaping, before the ransom demand had been communicated. Just two and a half months later, on December 18, the two arrested principals, who admitted their role in the kidnaping, were executed after pleading guilty, with a Federal jury then empaneled to recommend the penalty, recommending death. (As there was no indication that the kidnapers ever crossed Missouri state lines, the interstate commerce provision of the Federal Lindbergh Law, passed in 1932, presumably was used to invoke Federal jurisdiction, the use of telephone lines and the mail to communicate the ransom demand and instructions, and possibly the use of interstate highways to transport the victim's body from Kansas City to St. Joseph. It might also have been the case that the rebuttable presumption of crossing state lines based on the passage of seven days after the kidnaping before the apprehension of the suspects was not contested by the defense on the notion that the defendants might fare better in the Federal court under Federal law than in the state court under state law.) Only half of the ransom money was ever found. The woman had initiated the kidnaping, stating a ruse to nuns at the child's Catholic school, that she was the boy's aunt and that his mother had suffered a heart attack and was in the hospital. Shortly after she abducted the child, she met up with the man, who then shot the child shortly afterward. The man had developed the plan for the kidnaping sometime earlier, apparently after an association at military school with the boy's older adopted brother, learning through him of the family's wealth. Both of the kidnapers were notorious drunks. Missouri law provided for the possibility of the death penalty for kidnaping, whether or not the victim was harmed—not a very sensible law as it gave the kidnapers incentive to kill the kidnap victim to maintain the secrecy of their identity.

A piece indicates that the kidnaping was the sixth major such abduction since 1900 in which the victim had been killed. The most famous case had been that of the child of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, their 19-month old son having been kidnaped March 1, 1932, and the body recovered on May 12, after a ransom of $50,000 had been paid. Richard Bruno Hauptmann was arrested and eventually convicted and executed for that crime. Of the four other such cases, the ransom had been paid in two of them. It also lists other major kidnapings since 1900, in which the victim was returned alive. In those nine latter cases, the ransom had been paid in eight of them. The last such major kidnaping listed had occurred in 1938 in Florida, that of a five-year old boy, who had been killed after a $10,000 ransom had been paid.

The FBI announced this date the arrest in Tampa of a director of the Citizens National Bank of New Market, Va., who had been sought in connection with the theft of $103,500 from the bank. The FBI said that a nephew of the man was also arrested with him. The man and a former mayor of New Market had been accused of the crime, the former mayor indicating initially to FBI agents the prior Wednesday that the director of the bank had forced him at gunpoint to take the money, but later changing his story, admitting that the money was taken pursuant to a preconceived plan. They had departed New Market the previous week in a car driven by the bank director's nephew.

In Maiden, N.C., a branch of the Northwestern Bank of North Wilkesboro was robbed this date by two armed men, getting away with $2,664. The bank had been robbed three and a half years earlier of about $2,000 and the robber in that instance had never been caught. The two men were white and unmasked. They sped away in an automobile, one witness identifying it as a 1947 Ford, while another said it was a 1953 Chevrolet. Good luck finding them.

In Knoxville, the Southern Railway Birmingham Special passenger train was struck the previous night by a string of runaway freight cars, resulting in the death of a railroad inspector and the injury of two other trainmen. Governor Frank Clement, en route to confer with the President regarding the Tennessee Valley Authority, had been aboard the stopped passenger train with his wife and young son, but, as with the other passengers aboard, was not injured.

The twin cities of Champaign and Urbana, Illinois, home of the University of Illinois, decided not to merge, following a special election in each city the previous day.

On the editorial page, "It's Time To Have a Farm Policy" indicates that in the Far West, in places like the San Joaquin Valley of California, farmers were profiting and doing well, especially as gauged by their lot ten to fifteen years earlier. In the Great Plains, a network of small dams stored headwaters which provided stock water and irrigation, as well as bountiful fishing. Fields that once had been lost to dust were now covered in drought-resistant grasses. Contours, strip-farming and dikes were checking erosion. The Rural Electrification Administration lines, rural telephones and improved secondary roads had brought a majority of farmers into modern living, enabling them to conduct business and market goods with efficiency and dispatch, rivaling the city dweller.

But when the farmers' lot was compared to that of a year earlier, things were not so good. The farmer paid as much as a year earlier for the things which he had to buy, while the average price of his products had decreased by ten percent, with beef on the hoof down 30 to 40 percent. Exports of farm goods were down 30 percent. The Government was committed to support the price of several major farm products or buy them outright, and was stockpiling those products in record amounts. The result had been illogical and uneconomical confusion, compounded by partisan bickering as the 1954 midterm elections approached.

Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson continued to be reluctant to commit himself to a farm policy. At the plowing contest in Wisconsin the previous month, he had talked out of both sides of his mouth, as he had done the previous month in Darlington, S.C. Business Week found the Wisconsin speech a "thoroughgoing attack on present high level price supports". The Christian Science Monitor, however, heard him promise that there would be no change in farm policies and programs which would be detrimental to farmers' interests. It had observed that some believed that he was ready to go along with a high price support program. Both contrary views could be backed up with quotes from the Secretary.

The piece believes that a forthright agricultural policy would develop more respect and lose fewer votes than the Administration appeared to believe. It wanted to hear the Secretary indicate that the Administration would develop new markets abroad for U.S. agricultural products, would help the farmer, but not pay him to do what any reasonable farmer ought to do, and that it would help the farmer diversify to become established in high-demand crops. It wanted Mr. Benson to oppose the continued high price and rigid Government support of crops and surplus, as that practice only postponed the time when producers of the surpluses would divert part of their land to production of a commodity which could stand on its own merits in the marketplace. By doing that, it suggests, the farmer could harvest a good crop from which he would not then have to turn around and give huge amounts of surplus to the Government. It indicates that it did not expect Secretary Benson to make such a statement, but that if he did, he might be surprised at the number of farmers who would agree with him.

"Knowland Misconstrued Pacts' Purpose" indicates that for a few days, it appeared that bipartisanship in foreign policy might be making a comeback, as Adlai Stevenson and the President had affably discussed the world tour of Mr. Stevenson, and the President had indicated an interest in the suggestion of his former political opponent that the U.S. offer Russia a system of non-aggression guarantees. Winston Churchill, Konrad Adenauer of West Germany and Robert Schuman of France had made similar proposals. Undersecretary of State Walter Bedell Smith reported that the State Department had been actively discussing those ideas. Secretary of State Dulles announced that Germany, Britain, France and the U.S. were considering giving Russia assurances against German aggression, and that the U.S. was considering assuring Russia that Korea and Japan would not be used for aggressive purposes.

But Senate Majority Leader William Knowland, expressly speaking for himself, had been critical of the proposal by Governor Stevenson and also criticized India's Prime Minister Nehru. The fact suggested that any proposed non-aggression pact would face tough sledding in the Senate.

The piece suggests that the California Senator had attached undue significance to the proposed pacts. Neither the Administration nor the Democratic minority in Congress were so naïve as to anticipate that such pacts would diminish substantially the threat of Communist aggression. Their purpose would be to establish contact and areas of agreement with the adversary and with the country's allies, to reassure Russia and smaller powers of the peaceful intent of the U.S., thereby diminishing international tensions. It posits that the Administration deserved more understanding support from the Republican leader in the Senate.

A piece from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, titled "Hail and Farewell!" finds that Ernest Lawrence Thayer's classic ballad about Casey striking out was applicable to the St. Louis Browns baseball team, moving to Baltimore, a big disappointment to the St. Louis fans who had cheered on the team for 75 years. It recounts some of the memories of the star players through the years, but indicates that the Browns had fallen on "evil days" and their glories in recent years had been in the record books rather than on the sports pages. Support had dwindled accordingly for the team. Night games had helped for awhile, but with the competition of television and other attractions, nothing could substitute for winning games. It suggests that probably no big league team had lost more games by one run or in extra innings than had the Browns during the previous decade.

It recounts in detail the game by which the team would be remembered in its final season in St. Louis, that having taken place on September 5 at Sportsman's Park against the Detroit Tigers, in which the rookie Bob Turley pitched a three-hit game for 12 innings, until Browns left-fielder Dick Kokos hit a home run to end the game in the bottom of the 12th. But there had been only 1,960 fans on hand to see that "flashback to the great days".

Drew Pearson indicates that the most steadfast economizer in the Cabinet of the new Administration was Secretary of the Treasury George Humphrey, continuing to argue that economy could only come from large cuts in the military budget, as he had told a secret meeting of the Senate Finance Committee. Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia, also a fierce advocate for economy, wanted to know about the 81 billion dollars in unexpected balances which the Government owed, to which Secretary Humphrey responded that the money was already committed and the Government could not avoid paying it. The Senator demanded that the President impound the money and stop payment until the fiscal situation was straightened out so that someone could understand it. The Secretary responded that he had to disagree, as stopping payment was not practical. He insisted, however, that he was not saying that there was no possibility of reducing expenditures, to which Senator Byrd protested that the Administration's budget would be exactly the same as that of the Truman budget the previous year, with which the Secretary agreed. He insisted, however, that cuts could be made, that future appropriations had been cut by 13 billion dollars and that former President Truman's estimate of expenditures had been reduced. Mr. Humphrey again insisted that, despite spending as much in the current year as in the previous year during the Truman Administration, he and Budget director Joseph Dodge were trying to keep spending down.

Marquis Childs indicates that in ruling out a national sales tax, the President had yielded to pressure from Republicans up for re-election in 1954. Both politicians and economists could make a strong case against such a tax. Senator Alexander Wiley of Wisconsin, not up for re-election, had criticized the proposed alternative of a manufacturers' excise tax on the ground that it would not only be passed to the consumer in a higher price on retail products but also would result in the retailer taking a markup as a percentage of the total cost, and so would have the effect of a double increase to the consumer. The Senator said that farmers were already unable to afford the high cost of farm equipment, and adding to that cost via a tax would only complicate their situation.

Yet, with all that said, the Federal tax structure was out of balance. William Biggs, vice-president of the Bank of New York and chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Brookings Institution, had performed an analysis of the Federal budget in relation to corporate profits during a business decline and determined that in the previous 12 years, the U.S. had raised nearly 80 percent of its total revenue from corporate and individual income taxes, compared to the British Commonwealth, which raised only 50 percent of its revenue from such taxes. He said that because of that heavy dependence on income taxes, revenues were especially difficult to predict. A decline in business and in profits meant a rapid reduction in Government revenue. Thus, in 1949, a relatively small decline in business resulted in an estimated budget deficit of nearly 18 billion dollars, while a 1938-type recession would result in such a large shrinkage of revenue that the estimated deficit would be nearly 30 billion. Mr. Biggs had concluded that if the long-term integrity of the dollar was to be maintained, the dependence for revenue on income taxes had to be adjusted.

Robert C. Ruark, in Munich, writes, in his last in a series of seven columns regarding decline in morale among the U.S. occupation troops in West Germany under the command of Maj. General Kenneth Cramer, that despite an excellent combat record, the General was not a soldier's soldier in the traditional sense. He had been a wealthy Hartford, Conn., coal dealer and part-time soldier in the National Guard, serving four terms in the Connecticut Legislature. He denied, however, that he was a "political general", as one Congressman from Connecticut, Al Morano, had charged. He said that he was promoted to general in the field. He had won four Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart, as well as a large number of lesser awards. He had worked with the National Guard from 1931 to 1940, when he went into active service. He had been chief of the National Guard Bureau in Washington. He had moved the 43rd Division to Germany in the fall of 1951 and was in command of that unit until reassigned as boss of the Southern Area Command.

Non-combat commands were generally loaded with rules and regulations, spit-and-polish, and small frustrations which disappeared when men went into battle. Such things as the curtailment of PX privileges, the removal of soft drink machines, the shortage of bus service, and the like, became big items in their lives. The recent curfew in Munich, which General Cramer did not order, had been anathema to his troops. His first act on arrival in Munich had been to remove hard liquor from the menu of a banquet celebrating a victorious football team.

Mr. Ruark indicates that as a former serviceman, he was sympathetic with neither the General nor his troops. Fighting men did not have the privileges about which they complained. The General was "a martinet and a prude", but also "a conscientious officer with an overdeveloped sense of economy, discipline, and spit-and-polish". He had imposed petty restrictions and paid undue attention to the letter of military deportment, which Mr. Ruark finds silly, plus "some peculiar businesses" with the witnesses in the trial of Colonel Lane—which he had recounted in earlier columns in the series.

A letter writer from New York indicates gratitude for the newspaper's coverage of the American Field Service bus trip visit to Charlotte the prior summer, especially thanking Tom Fesperman and Mrs. Philip Read of the newspaper's staff.

A letter from two privates in Korea seeks girls between the ages of 18 and 22, hopes they would not take the letter as a joke, as mail was all they had to look forward to each day. Their address is included, should you like to drop them a line.

A letter writer from Bena, Va., indicates that World War II had been fought to unconditional surrender, but that the country, while winning the war, had lost the peace. He finds that for more than seven years, "[t]he ship of state has been drifting from one dangerous crisis to another", with fear increasing because danger was increasing. He believes it was time to quit wasting time on the U.N. and that a federal union of the free world ought be organized on sound principles which could achieve a just peace and have the power to maintain the peace. He finds the U.N. to be a "power vacuum in a world of power". He concludes that "[t]he final arbiter in a union based upon the individual is a court of justice; the final arbiter in a union of nations is war."

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