The Charlotte News

Thursday, December 17, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in London, Prime Minister Winston Churchill told Commons this date that he believed he had convinced President Eisenhower and the French at their recent Bermuda conference to offer Russia security guarantees from the West, to be put forward at the projected Big Four foreign ministers conference in Berlin. The Prime Minister said that he had used the Bermuda conference to emphasize that the Soviet Union was entitled to assurances against aggression after what it had suffered at Hitler's hands. He received cheers from the House when he said that he believed he had been successful at the conference in pressing on his colleagues the justice and advantage of such a course, despite the vast strength of Russia. He said that he had warned the French of the "gravity of the situation" which would develop in the event of failure to ratify the European Defense Community plan for a unified European army. He indicated his support for the statements earlier in the week by Secretary of State Dulles, warning the NATO allies that if France failed to ratify the EDC, then American aid might be reduced or withdrawn. The Prime Minister urged that EDC ought be placed squarely before the French people.

In Panmunjom, a South Korean who had fled from a pro-Communist prisoner compound said this date that among the prisoners who had previously expressed a desire not to repatriate, diehard Communist leaders were guarding three or four Americans and 20 South Koreans who actually appeared to desire to come home. He said that compound leaders had deliberately stalled allied explanations to the prisoners who refused repatriation because they feared defections. He named the four Americans, but the names were withheld by military authorities to prevent possible reprisals. The South Korean prisoner had crawled through barbed wire surrounding the compound the previous day and had asked an Indian guard for repatriation, and was returned to the U.N. Command the same day. The Indian Command, who guarded the non-repatriating prisoners, said, however, that the Americans and the lone Briton appeared to have firm political convictions.

The President told Republican Congressional leaders this date that the American people were looking to the Republicans to continue to enact a forward-looking, progressive program which would serve the welfare of all of the people. It was announced at the White House that the President would give a nationwide radio and television address on the evening of January 4, reviewing the first year of his Administration and outlining the objectives for the ensuing year. He would also personally deliver the State of the Union message to Congress on January 7. The President was beginning three days of conferences with party leaders regarding the 1954 legislative program.

In Moscow, the Soviet Government announced this date that L. P. Beria had confessed to plotting against the state and would go on trial with six key members of the secret police network he had headed for 15 years. The official announcement had been printed in the Government newspaper, Izvestia, and Moscow radio said that the seven men would be tried at a special session of the Soviet Supreme Court, but did not indicate when the trial would take place. The announcement said that Mr. Beria and his associates had sought to use the organs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs against the Communist Party and the Government "in the interests of foreign capital … to grab power and to liquidate the Soviet worker-peasant regime, with a view to restoring capitalism and securing the domination of the bourgeois."

In Guam, a B-29, which had been forced to turn back because of engine trouble, plunged into a military housing area and exploded, killing 17 persons and injuring 14, two listed in critical condition. The accident occurred in stormy weather, with the plane attempting to land and falling just short of the runway. The dead included three crewmen, five military passengers, six children, two women and an Air Force officer.

In Chicago, at least two persons, one of whom was a fireman, had been killed and five other firemen had been reported trapped this date, in the wreckage of a small west side hotel. Twenty-one firemen and one hotel resident had been injured, all except five of the firemen having been hospitalized. An investigation was begun to determine whether the fire was the work of an arsonist, prompted by a note found on the body of the dead resident. The note said in part: "I am really crazy. I killed 15 people. I also set fire to 12 apartment buildings." The man had recently been released from a State mental hospital.

In Ewing, Va., two armed bandits this date held up and robbed the People's Bank and escaped with about $12,000, the holdup having occurred at the start of the workday. Both men fled the scene.

In Miami, Fla., a man choked to death on a piece of steak the previous night while eating dinner with his wife and eight-year old son. A Fire Department captain, who had rushed into the home with the rescue squad, said that an unchewed three-ounce piece of steak had lodged in the man's windpipe. Knowledge by a family member of the Heimlich maneuver in this instance might have saved a life.

Ann Sawyer of The News reports that the Mecklenburg County grand jury had continued its investigation of the City Police Department this date, after returning four presentments against present Chief Frank Littlejohn. The presentments alleged that he had unlawfully allowed gambling to flourish in Charlotte without effort to suppress it, had unlawfully accepted expensive gifts from officers of the local Moose Lodge, had, on November 10, 1948, unlawfully accepted $2,000 as a reward for finding who had bombed the local Boar's Head Restaurant, and that in 1937 or 1938, had unlawfully harbored and befriended a fugitive from justice, Allen Kantor, who was a material witness to a murder in Washington. Chief Littlejohn denied all of the accusations. A fifth presentment was made against a detective, indicating that from 1941 to the present time, he had unlawfully cohabited with a former wife while she was living next door to him and his present wife. Witnesses for each presentment were also reported.

Donald McDonald of The News reports that Chief Littlejohn had labeled the allegations "a colossal frameup" and that he hated to dignify the "absurd accusations" by even denying them. He said that it was deliberately timed to coincide with the tax evasion trial of Keith Beaty, and that to understand what was going on, one only needed to answer the questions of who had been promoting the matter and who had brought to Charlotte Lamar Caudle, former head of the tax and criminal divisions of the Justice Department and a witness on one of the presentments against the Chief. He said that the reward in question had been offered by the restaurant owner and that it had been divided between the two detectives who had arrested the two men later convicted for bombing the restaurant.

Dick Young of The News reports that Charlotte Mayor Philip Van Every expressed complete confidence in the integrity of Chief Littlejohn, as did City Manager Henry Yancey. Members of the City Council, at whose pleasure the Chief served, cautioned against hasty action prejudging the Chief. Verbatim statements by several members of the Council are provided.

In New York, Dan Topping and Dell Webb, owners of the New York Yankees, announced this date the sale of Yankee Stadium and Blues Stadium in Kansas City, to Arnold Johnson and Associates of Chicago, for 6.5 million dollars.

In Uruapan, Mexico, a movie fight had turned into an actual brawl this date, leaving Gary Cooper, Richard Widmark and Cameron Mitchell with cuts and bruises, Mr. Cooper suffering a sprained wrist, a black eye and a cut lip. The latter said that he was trying to make the movie fight look real and had not heard the order to quit, that he had not intended to clobber anyone. Mr. Widmark apologized to the other two actors in the same vein. When the fight turned real, the 20th Century-Fox cameras had ceased to capture the action.

The publicity agent who placed that piece probably figured that it would be good for a few extra thousand attendance when the movie opened. Or, you can believe everything you read in a newspaper.

In Buffalo, N.Y., the assistant librarian of the local public library the previous day had said that returned books had produced paychecks, gas bills, school report cards and pressed flowers, but it was the first time that they had found a fried egg and strip of bacon inside a returned book.

The book, incidentally, could not have been Breakfast at Tiffany's, as that was still five years from publication. Perhaps, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland?

On the editorial page, "National Military Training Is Needed" advocates Universal Military Training to provide a standby force of trained men in the event of war, so that the country would not have to be reliant on veterans of earlier wars to do its fighting. It suggests that the country had not learned the lessons of both world wars and established a military personnel system as sensible as its matériel system. After each of those wars, the country had demobilized, and in consequence of the second demobilization, had been caught unprepared for the Korean War, necessitating the use of green troops and veterans in the early fighting.

During the week, a commission appointed by the President, headed by Maj. General Julius Adler, had proposed to correct the problem with UMT, proposing that starting in 1955, 100,000 young men would be trained for six months and would then be transferred to the Ready Reserve, where they would serve for seven and a half years. The draft would operate concurrently and all 18-year old men would draw lots to determine whether they would enter UMT or the regular armed forces. If voluntary enlistments proved high and troop requirements low, the number of draftees would be commensurately small.

It suggests that if such a plan were not adopted, within a few years, the reserves would be composed primarily of older men who had already done their share of fighting. The present system was unjust to the veterans, as it placed reliance on them in the event of war. The unfairness of the lottery would pale in comparison. It also finds that such a plan would serve as a deterrent to foreign aggression and so was sensible, just and urgent.

"A Little Lesson from History" indicates that consensus opinion was that the Republicans had lost a good deal of support since the 1952 elections, and that the President's popularity had slipped, though pundits agreed that he could win back his supporters by exerting more decisive leadership.

During the week, the Raleigh News & Observer had headlined on its front page the story that high compliments paid to the President by Representative Charles Halleck of Indiana had failed to draw any applause at the American Farm Bureau meeting in Chicago the prior Tuesday.

It imparts that the late Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes had maintained in his diary an amazing amount of information, the first installment of which had just been published, indicating that Mr. Ickes and many of his closest friends and associates had been almost frantic with worry in the late months of 1935 because they were certain that President Roosevelt's popularity had slipped so badly that he would be defeated for re-election in 1936, when in fact he wound up achieving one of the greatest landslides in modern history.

Parenthetically, we note that during the week, we saw indicated in one publication that President-elect Biden's victory in 2020 by 7.1 million popular votes had been the greatest popular vote margin since the 1932 election, in which FDR beat incumbent President Herbert Hoover, a completely inaccurate statement, as FDR's 1936 victory over Governor Landon was larger, as were both of President Eisenhower's victories in 1952 and 1956 over Adlai Stevenson, President Johnson's victory over Senator Barry Goldwater in 1964, President Nixon's 1972 victory over Senator George McGovern, Ronald Reagan's victories over incumbent President Jimmy Carter in 1980 and former Vice-President Walter Mondale in 1984, the 1996 victory by incumbent President Bill Clinton over Senator Bob Dole, as well as Senator Obama's 2008 victory over Senator John McCain. If the article meant to limit its comparisons to defeated incumbent Presidents, of whom there have only been three prior to the 2020 election since 1932, Presidents Ford, Carter, and George H. W. Bush, it also missed the mark, as the 1980 margin was greater, 8.5 million votes.

But, of course, the actual comparator between elections is the percentage margin of victory, not the raw popular vote margin. Based on percentage of popular vote margin over incumbents, the 1992 result, won by Governor Clinton by 5.6 percent, also tops the 2020 result of 4.5 percent, albeit won only by a plurality in 1992, 43 percent, because of the third-party Ross Perot vote, amounting to 18.9 percent. The 1980 race was won by 9.7 percent and former Governor Reagan topped 50 percent, but only barely, by seven-tenths of a point, for the fact of another third-party candidate, former Republican, turned independent Representative John Anderson, receiving 6.6 percent.

One can say accurately, therefore, that the victory of President-elect Biden was by the largest majority percentage of any victorious candidate over an incumbent since 1932, 51.3 percent. FDR received 57.4 percent of the vote over President Hoover. But the article in question, published by a major publication, did not state it that way, instead citing the raw vote margin.

Perhaps the sad Trumpies can take some solace in the fact that of the other seven times in U.S. history an incumbent has lost, Presidents John Adams, in 1800 to Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, in 1828 to Andrew Jackson, after President Adams had lost the popular vote substantially in 1824 and won only by virtue of the House vote after no candidate garnered a majority of the electoral college, Martin Van Buren, in 1840 to William Henry Harrison, Grover Cleveland, in 1888 to Benjamin Harrison, only in the electoral college, Benjamin Harrison, in 1892 to former President Cleveland, and William Howard Taft, in 1912 to Governor Woodrow Wilson, the victorious candidates only in the latter three races received a smaller percentage of the popular vote than did President-elect Biden, with former Senator Harrison, grandson of William Henry Harrison, the first President to die in office, in 1841, garnering 47.8 percent of the vote to President Cleveland's 48.6 percent in 1888—and, of course, former President Cleveland then coming back in 1892 to beat President Harrison, 46 to 43 percent, thus becoming the only President big enough to be counted as two Presidents. The Republican vote in 1912 was split by the third-party effort of former President Theodore Roosevelt. (There is always that hope, Trumpies, faint though it may be, for a repeat of history of sorts from 1892 in 2024, allowing Trumpy-Dumpy-Do to become the second man big enough to be counted as two Presidents, though not, in that event, avenging an electoral loss after winning the popular vote, as was the case with President Cleveland.)

Thus, in sum, of the ten prior times an incumbent has been defeated, President-elect Biden's percentage tops six of those victory percentages—maybe affording not so much solace after all. Incumbents have won re-election twenty times.

None of that is to suggest, of course, that anyone can say that the guy in the White House actually won a landslide victory were it not for all that supposed voter fraud, but the record is the record, and while 2020 was not in the landslide category, it was also not one of those close elections, such as in 1960, 1968, 2000, 2004 and 2016, the 2000 and 2016 elections, of course, reverse close elections, decided against the electoral college victor by 500,000 and 2.9 million votes, respectively. The 2020 result falls somewhere in the middle range. And just as the current White House occupant's electoral college victory in 2016 was no landslide, neither can it be said that the present same 74 electoral vote margin is a landslide, also within the middle range historically of electoral college margins.

Additionally, as further balm to the hurt natures of Trumpies, just in case you ever encounter the answer in "Jeopardy", "He had the lowest estimated attendance of any U.S. Presidential inauguration ceremony in modern history," the question, no doubt, will be: "Who was President Joe Biden?" But then comes the hard part for the Trumpies to accept, the one sentence explanation for that fact: "You recall, contestants, 2020 was the year of..."

Then again, little Trumpie-Do, there is always this, though that previously uninterrupted line was broken as to Presidents, actually, in the 1941-45 third term of FDR, which he survived by nearly three months, and was further disconfirmed by the survival of both President Reagan and President George W. Bush through their first terms, even if the believers in curses could argue that Pearl Harbor, the attempted assassination in 1981 of President Reagan and the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were only variant manifestations of the curse. Those same believers, however, would have to agree that the curse of 2020-21 is already upon us and so the medicine man of Tecumseh would need conjure no more this time. Indeed, the fact that the new Secretary of Interior-designate is a Native American, perhaps, might lift the curse once and for all.

"Nixon, Stevenson Trips Serve the Nation" indicates that Vice-President Nixon had just returned from his trip around the world, handling himself "admirably in several touchy situations", making no diplomatic or political faux pas, and having been greeted in a friendly manner by public officials and ordinary people everywhere. In every respect, the trip appeared to have been a complete success, marking one more "significant stage in the rapid maturing of the young man who was elected to the No. 2 U.S. public office."

It finds it fortunate that both the Vice-President and former Governor Adlai Stevenson, who had also completed a round-the-world trip the prior August, had seen the world at first hand, as the midterm elections would put political responsibility of both parties to the test and it would be a great temptation to ambitious politicians on each side of the aisle to try to play fast and loose with foreign policy as a means of attracting votes. It finds it probably too much to hope that bipartisanship on foreign policy would be achieved, but observes that the influence of Messrs. Nixon and Stevenson upon their respective supporters in Congress ought help materially to keep political irresponsibility at a minimum during the coming debates on the role of the U.S. in world affairs.

"Gremlins" remarks on the below Sanford Herald piece on typographical errors occurring in newspapers, and points out that in The News the previous day, a change was made in the wording of the lead editorial, which was supposed to produce the sentence: "This NATO Council meeting, and future gatherings of NATO leaders, ought to concentrate on the urgent and neglected goal of Atlantic unity." But instead, before the error was caught, the sentence read: "This NATO Council meeting, and future gatherings of NATO leaders, greatest pride." (We refrained from comment after noticing it, not wishing to embarrass any ghosts.) It indicates it did not know how the mistake had occurred, but it had brought to mind a paraphrase of the old saw: "For want of a point, an editorial was lost."

A piece from the Sanford Herald, titled "About Typographical Errors", tells of a fellow editor at the Chatham News having inadvertently called former Governor Kerr Scott "irresponsible", when he had meant to say "irrepressible", but that the linotype operator had made the change and the proofreader had not caught it.

During the week, the Herald had printed a story about a local judge presiding over a "fish-fighting" case, resulting from the linotype operator combining two words from two different sentences. It thus offers the judge and readers an apology.

It relates further of a Marine General, for whom a friend had served as Public Information Officer during World War II, having called the friend to task for inserting in the camp newspaper a picture of men hitting the beach with guns held high overhead, with the caption, "Marines Swam Ashore at Iwo", the friend explaining to the General that he was aware the Marines had not swum ashore but that it was the result of a typographical error, that it should have read "Swarm". The following morning, on the camp bulletin board, above the signature of the General, there was an order which read: "In the future there will be no more typographical errors in any publication under the authority of this command."

Drew Pearson indicates that some at the RNC were about ready to admit that the President was a smarter politician than they were and that Communism would not be an important political issue in the midterm elections after all, pointing to the two elections which went to the Democrats a month after Attorney General Herbert Brownell released on November 6 a report on the late Harry Dexter White—who had died shortly after his HUAC testimony in 1948. In California, three northern counties, which were rock-ribbed Republican, had elected Democrat Dale Williams as State Senator in a "minor landslide", and on the East Coast, in Waterville, Me., a Democratic Mayor, Richard Dubard, was re-elected overwhelmingly, and the Democrats of that town's City Council claimed the majority for the first time in 20 years. Maine, at that time, was so staunchly Republican that it and Vermont were the only two states which FDR had failed to carry in his 46-state landslide in 1936, against Kansas Governor Alf Landon. As a result, Republican pulse-takers were suggesting that RNC chairman Leonard Hall might take a few cues from the President that spies would not be an issue in the 1954 elections.

No one could doubt the complete sincerity of Secretary of State Dulles in his search for peace, though some might not appreciate the importance of his present mission in Paris, the success of which could determine whether another war might occur. Meanwhile, in Warsaw, former French Premier Edouard Daladier, leader of the right-wing French Radical Socialist Party, and Jacques Soustelle, special representative of right-wing nationalist General Charles de Gaulle, were seeking to cement relations with Communist Poland, Communist Czechoslovakia and Soviet Russia. Neither of the Frenchmen had any official status, but were effectively going behind the back of the French Government to thwart the efforts of Secretary Dulles to bring about the united European army, desiring that France would place its reliance on a pact with Russia rather than cooperating in formation of the European Defense Community with West Germany. Mr. Pearson indicates that the tragedy was that those two Frenchmen and their countries already had produced a record of negotiating pacts which failed, a forgotten fact by many in France.

He reviews that record, indicating that a mutual assistance pact in the event of war had been signed in 1935 between France and Russia, and a mutual non-aggression pact had been signed between Russia and Germany's Von Ribbentrop on August 23, 1939, while on September 30, 1939, the Munich Pact was signed, with M. Daladier signing for France and Neville Chamberlain signing for Britain, a pact which would in 1940 have the effect of selling France and England down the river to the Nazis. A fourth pact had been signed in 1944 by M. De Gaulle with Joseph Stalin, supposed to bring about a new era of safety for France, having the effect, however, of giving the Communist Party in France the means to bore from within. A fifth pact had been signed by Dr. Edouard Benes of Czechoslovakia in 1943 between that country and Russia, supposed to protect Czechoslovakia but instead bringing it under the heel of the Soviets.

Mr. Pearson observes that a pact, therefore, with Russia meant treachery or suicide. Nevertheless, the right-wing, nationalist groups in France were proposing such a pact presently. They represented the extreme right, much as did Senator McCarthy in the U.S., which, he points out, would always cooperate temporarily with the Communists. Mr. Dulles had to worry about that group. He knew when he went to Paris that he would have to cure the jealousy between France and Germany, that if relations between the two nations were not healed with a united European army, Russia could continue to pry the two nations apart, almost inevitably resulting in another war.

He next indicates that the inside story had just leaked as to how Republicans had poured money into three Michigan newspapers to bid up the stock and block former Senator Blair Moody from purchasing the chain. Mr. Moody and Roger Stevens, principal owner of the Empire State Building, headed a syndicate which had sought to purchase controlling interests in the Grand Rapids Herald, the Lansing State Journal and the Battle Creek Inquirer and News, as well as a tv station in Battle Creek and an engraving plant in Grand Rapids. One of the brokers had tipped the Republicans, who then hastily bid the stock so high that the syndicate could not afford to complete the deal, arousing resentment among Democrats, who pointed out that 80 percent of the American press was already Republican-owned, and that in Michigan there were practically no Democratic newspapers.

The Raleigh News & Observer discusses the Barbers Journal in New York City editorially campaigning for a nationwide $2 haircut, suggests that it might be the worth "to cut a head of hair or have a head of hair cut." It indicates that it was also quite possible that the talk about rising haircut prices could do more harm than good to the barbers, as women might start clipping their husbands', sons' and boyfriends' hair.

It finds that barbers were entitled to their fair worth, as everyone else, and it was to be hoped that rising haircut costs would not decrease clientele, as men would not look as good after a home haircut. In addition, the barbershop had long been a vital center in the American debate and anything which might threaten it might threaten "talkative American freedom, too." It concludes that the barbershop was an essential American institution.

A letter writer thanks James Christian Pfohl and Mrs. Maurice Townsend for their efforts in producing better music for Charlotte, "deodorizing part of the radio ether" for a few minutes each week. He indicates that as a teacher, he tried hard to make his students aware that many decades earlier, inspiring and worthwhile music had been written, and that in some parts of the country, one could hear such music on the radio. One local station on Saturday afternoons broadcast the Metropolitan Opera performances, but that appeared to be the only such program during normal hours. He praises the station for doing so and preventing Charlotte "from being completely submerged in a cultural vacuum." He finds too much radio time dedicated to what was erroneously called "Folk Music", a careful analysis of which would show that it was a "shabby combination of poorly performed swing and unadulterated swill." He urges "all those whose appreciation level transcends stamping feet and cut-plug flavored hog calling to write to their radio stations and make their wishes known."

A letter writer congratulates The News on its 65th anniversary, celebrated December 11, indicates that some time earlier, his minister had preached a sermon based on the text of Luke 18:9, which he quotes, and he finds confirmation of it in a letter from Bob Cherry, Jr., appearing December 11, indicating that no one could write such a letter except those who were fearful of their own shadows—or even that of their dog. He indicates that everyone must have read of a group of Communists who had staged a demonstration against General Marshall when he had been presented in Oslo with the Nobel Peace Prize recently, and he wonders how the McCarthys and the Jenners, "with their sordid accusations of the General being a 'front man for traitors' (communists) and a 'living lie', [were] going to reconcile their opinions with the actual hatred of the General by active communists". He urges getting back to living by the principle of "Faith of Our Fathers".

A letter from the chairman of the Public Information Committee of the United Appeal thanks the newspaper for its support provided their successful campaign, naming editor Pete McKnight, associate editor Vic Reinemer, and reporters Dick Young and Elizabeth Blair.

A letter writer from Davidson comments on the December 7 editorial, "Do You Still Like Ike?" He indicates that several readers had written expressing approval of Senator McCarthy's efforts to remove Communists from government, but he finds that, while the effort was necessary for the country's security, the means by which he sought to carry it out were "insidious and constitute a threat to American civil liberties." He provides an example in which the Senator had distorted facts and accused persons without grounds, in the case of John Paton Davies, former member of the policy planning staff of the State Department, whom the Senator had accused of being part of "the old Acheson-Lattimore-Vincent-White-Hiss group which did so much toward delivering our Chinese friends into Communists hands". The Senator said that Mr. Davies had been referred by the McCarran Committee to the Justice Department for proposed indictment for lying under oath about his activities in trying to place Communists and espionage agents in key posts within the CIA. The writer finds no factual basis for either charge, indicating that the Justice Department, according to a New York Times report of December 9, had found no basis for such an indictment. He cites testimony which he finds supportive of the conclusion that Mr. Davies had not proposed putting Communists in the CIA. General Walter Bedell Smith, during his confirmation hearings as Undersecretary of State, had testified regarding Mr. Davies's loyalty. So the writer concludes that Senator McCarthy had smeared people without basis, and he finds that it had gotten to the point where people were being regarded as guilty simply because Senator McCarthy accused them, and that many Americans, who professed belief in the right to fair trial and the precept of innocence until proven guilty, were "condoning and even approving of the methods of this demagogue."

Framed Edition
[Return to Links
Page by Subject] [Return to Links-Page by Date] [Return to News<i><i><i>—</i></i></i>Framed Edition]
Links-Date Links-Subj.