The Charlotte News

Saturday, December 19, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Panmunjom, 22 American war prisoners refusing repatriation were planning a festive Christmas, as the U.N. Command made a last-minute appeal to them to change their minds, in the form of a 12-page letter addressed to each prisoner, indicating that refusing to return home was not an irrevocable mistake. The Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission had to approve of the letter before it would be distributed to the prisoners. It appeared unlikely that there would be any face-to-face interviews arranged with the prisoners prior to the deadline for the completion of the interviews on December 23, as the prisoners had refused to participate in the explanations process, though at least one South Korean prisoner, who had changed his mind and decided to return home, had claimed that some of the Americans wanted to return home but that the Communists had deliberately delayed the interviews, fearing that they might change their minds. The U.N. Command reportedly was also planning to use loudspeaker broadcasts to the prisoners. After December 23, the prisoners would be listed as absent without leave and a month later, would automatically be classified as deserters. Some of the text of the letter is provided.

The President was entering the third and final day of conferences with Republican Congressional leaders regarding the legislative agenda for the coming year. This date's discussion involved more effective ways to deal with subversives and big-time criminals. Senator Joseph McCarthy, chairman of the Senate Government Operations Committee and the Investigating subcommittee, took part in the meeting, along with Representative Harold Velde, chairman of HUAC, Senator Alexander Wiley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Representative Chauncey Reed, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. The talks went beyond the two proposals recently put forward by Attorney General Herbert Brownell, to grant immunity from prosecution to selected persons testifying before Congressional committees and to legalize the use of wiretap evidence obtained in espionage investigations.

Republicans reportedly were planning to start sending appointments for postmasterships to the Senate for confirmation as soon as Congress reconvened in January. Senator Frank Carlson of Kansas, chairman of the Post Office Committee, said this date that he understood that several hundred names were ready to be sent up quickly. An official at the Post Office Department said that there were about 3,300 postmasterships to be named, of which 2,350 were in the classes to be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, with the remainder filled by the Department.

In Iceland, efforts to rescue reported survivors of a crashed U.S. Navy bomber, which had disappeared the prior Thursday on a patrol flight near Reykjavik and the wreckage of which had been sighted the previous day, continued this date, with U.S. planes dropping survival equipment for at least three surviving members of the nine-man crew. There was no indication as to how long it would take rescue parties to reach the men, stranded on a glacier.

In Versailles, a fifth vote in three days in the French National Assembly to try to elect a new president had failed, as none of the candidates received the requisite number of votes. It was the first time in the history of the Republic that more than two ballots had been necessary to elect a president.

Ann Sawyer of The News reports on the Mecklenburg County grand jury report issued this date regarding its investigations into police corruption, the report indicating that the charges of an underworld gambling racket operating as a result of police payoffs, as alleged by columnist Drew Pearson, were "substantially correct". The report made several recommendations pertaining to the Police Department, suggested that the investigation be continued after the first of the year when a new grand jury was appointed, and accused the City Council of passing the buck in asking the grand jury to take over the investigation. The grand jury had issued five presentments the prior Wednesday, four of which charged Police Chief Frank Littlejohn with allowing gambling to flourish in the city, accepting expensive gifts from the Moose Lodge, illegally receiving a $2,000 reward, and harboring and befriending a fugitive who was a material witness to a Washington murder. Chief Littlejohn had repeatedly requested that he appear before the grand jury, and had criticized it for not questioning him. The grand jury recommended that the chief, presently appointed by the City Council, be henceforth appointed by a police commissioner, who would be appointed by a Superior Court judge, that the police force be increased to 250 officers, that a full-time vice squad be established, that an attorney who was a member of the City Council be prohibited from practicing law in the lower courts, and that the grand jury be allowed separate counsel and the services of a stenographer.

Members of the City Council were in general agreement that they had not passed the buck when they asked the grand jury to take over the investigation. Councilman Basil Boyd, the only attorney on the Council, said he did not know what law the grand jury had in mind supposedly needing amendment to prohibit lawyers on the Council from practicing in the lower courts, that he knew of no such law and that if such a law were passed, he doubted it would be constitutional. He also said that he believed the grand jury had failed to find any proof substantiating the charges of Mr. Pearson.

In London, Prime Minister Churchill had burned his left hand, according to aides, when a box of matches he had been holding ignited during a luncheon party the previous day at Trinity House. As the Prime Minister emerged from his official residence at 10 Downing Street this date to go to his country home at Chartwell, Kent, it was observed that his left hand was bandaged and his arm in a sling.

In Genoa, Italy, a 74-year old man returned to Italy the previous night from Buffalo, N.Y., visiting his boyhood home for the first time in more than 50 years, but as he stepped ashore from the ship, he collapsed and died of a heart ailment.

In Nashville, a boy entered the office of the police chief and announced that he wanted a badge to become a police-boy and pick up boys whom he saw picking up things. The police chief told him that they did not have any extra badges, and the boy asked whether he could rummage through the drawers to see if he could find one, to which the police chief assented. When he found none, tears welled up in his eyes, and the police chief instructed his secretary to see if he could not find a badge for the eight-year old. He said that he wanted a gold one like the chief's. Finally, the secretary produced a tin badge, which the boy pinned to his coveralls and walked out.

Perhaps, he was kin to Elvis.

In Salem, N.H., a thief had broken into a woman's home the previous night, unwrapping 20 Christmas gifts but taking only a camera and tie, plus all of the wrapping paper. The thief had also stolen three jars of candy, but left two boxes of chocolates, took two boxes of fishing tackle, but left behind two fishing reels, took a .22 caliber revolver, but passed on a hunting rifle. He had also swept the floor. The police wanted to test his sanity.

On the editorial page, "State Air Picture out of Focus" indicates that the December 17 50th anniversary of the first flight of the Wright brothers at Kill Devil Hill on the Outer Banks was a good time to examine aviation in the state. According to the current issue of N.C. Facts, published by the North Carolina Research Institute, the status of aviation in the state was not good, as it ranked 19th in the number of airports and 15th in the number of airplanes registered, while ranking 10th in population. The state's passenger index, the number of commercial air travelers per 1,000 population, was 28th among the states and only 60 percent of the national average. It provides other such statistics plus a table of the standing of the five leading airports in the state and their percentage of the state's air passengers flown, with Charlotte leading with 49.62 percent, followed by Raleigh-Durham at 16.85 percent, Greensboro-High Point at 11.27 percent, Winston-Salem, and Asheville-Hendersonville, each with a little over 5 percent. Thus, Charlotte had substantially more volume than all of the other four leading airports in the state combined.

It observes that while Charlotte was proud of its air service and desired more, it was also interested in seeing more rapid development throughout the state, which would bring better service and increased patronage to all. It suggests that some of the effort of the Department of Conservation & Development ought be directed toward that objective.

"Driving Courtesy Is Contagious" suggests that Charlotteans were full of Southern hospitality until they got behind the wheel of an automobile, when a different spirit took over, causing them to disregard other motorists and pedestrians. It contrasts residents of Atlanta, who were also hospitable, but who exhibited that hospitality while they drove, the result of a successful driving program which it suggests Charlotte ought copy. The program consisted of a weekly traffic school to which some 150 to 200 first traffic offenders were assigned instead of paying fines for traffic offenses. Films were shown at the classes showing different kinds of discourteous driving. Traffic accidents in Atlanta had declined in December to a total of 21, compared to 33 for the same period the prior year, and injury accidents were less than half as many as had occurred during the same period the previous year. The Atlanta judges insisted that traffic courtesy was contagious.

It finds that a similar program in Charlotte might improve courtesy among drivers. The State Highway Patrol was already operating such a school at Fuquay Springs.

"What We Need Now Is a Cold Spell" indicates that the late Clarence Cason of Alabama, in his book 90 Degrees in the Shade, had said that railroad builder Jim Hill believed that no man upon whom snow had not fallen was ever worth a tinker's damn, prompting him to build his railroads in the Northwest. Paul Bunyan of the Northwest was said to have uttered course epithets, which then froze as soon as they were spoken, enabling him to pluck them from the air and place them on the curse's object. It finds that many Southerners who had gone north had often become leading citizens after a few hard winters, and that quite a few North Carolinian ne'er-do-wells had migrated to Montana after the Civil War, some of whom having then been elected to high positions in Montana's early governments.

Thus, it favors more cold weather and even snow for Charlotte, to bring out the admirable qualities of residents of Mecklenburg County. As it was, motorists had picked up youngsters walking in the cold, and transplanted Northerners advised the natives how best to thaw out their frozen pipes. It finds that the spirit of Christmas had hovered "in living rooms made cheerful by crackling logs burning in the fireplace." It concludes that in the event of a real cold snap, life would be beautiful.

A piece from the Greensboro Daily News, titled "An Inane Idea", finds ridiculous the idea of Charlotte Police Chief Frank Littlejohn to prevent future suicides in the Charlotte jail by indicting persons who tried it. It indicates that the only response to such suicidal efforts would be to offer counseling and treatment for mental illness rather than treating the subject as a criminal, only causing more of a tendency toward self-destruction. It urges that medical or psychiatric attention be provided to such persons when they were arrested and brought to police headquarters, and that anyone found unconscious or irrational was entitled to attention from such personnel.

The Daily Oklahoman says in an editorial that any Communists in the Government who might not have suspected that the FBI was listening to their telephone conversations ought know better by this point, as the Department of Justice had accumulated quite a bit of wiretap evidence against many of the persons who had been named in Congressional investigations of subversion. A 1934 law banning the use of wiretap evidence in Federal courts prevented criminal prosecution based on that evidence. The Justice Department, however, was seeking to change the law to permit the Government to use such evidence to prosecute some it believed had engaged in a criminal conspiracy involving subversive activity.

The piece suggests that attempts to prosecute subversives based on wiretap evidence would be difficult, as conspirators who realized they were being recorded would likely say nothing of value over the telephone.

The Arkansas Gazette, in an editorial, tells of a woman in Chicago who, as a publicity stunt, had traveled around the world via commercial airlines in 90 hours and 51 minutes. Another young woman in 1896 had performed a similar feat for publicity, but taking 72 days, providing an indicator of how much the globe had shrunk in the interim. The woman who had made the journey in 1953, after never having emerged from the airports in England, North Africa, Greece, India and the Pacific Islands where her flight had landed, had said when completing the journey that she had seen some lovely airports, "but after all the best airport is the one in your hometown." It suggests that there was likely something in it somewhere for Edgar Guest.

Drew Pearson indicates that State Department envoy Arthur Dean had returned from Korea to Washington after his unsuccessful efforts at getting the Korean peace conference started, informing the President that unless drastic decisions were made by January 22, the fighting in Korea might be resumed. He said that the Communists reportedly would resist with force the scheduled release on January 22 of the 22,000 Communist prisoners who were refusing repatriation, and that South Korean President Syngman Rhee was indicating that he would launch his own offensive against North Korea if a peace conference had not been started by January 22. The Indian Command, in charge of guarding the prisoners, had asked both sides to present written statements on what they intended to do if the explanation program to the non-repatriating prisoners remained bogged down by January 22. U.S. commanders had become so worried that President Rhee might strike against North Korea that they had rationed his gasoline supply. But the South Koreans would not hesitate to walk to the fight, if necessary. President Eisenhower and others in the Administration had pleaded with President Rhee not to take such a stand. He had said that if the conference were started by January 27, 90 days after the scheduled start of the conference, set originally to start no later than 90 days after the Armistice had been signed, he would give it time to act on the issue of Korean unity, his condition for not resuming the fight. The U.S. and Korean negotiators for the peace conference were not far apart, with the only remaining issue to be resolved being whether Russia would attend as a neutral or a belligerent nation, thus far the U.S. refusing to permit Russia to be regarded as a neutral. Mr. Pearson notes that the Pentagon was alarmed over intelligence reports that Russia had moved 58 divisions and most of its tactical air squadrons into Siberia. If the Russians were to try to mop up Korea, the Pentagon had drafted plans for striking back with atomic bombs.

CIO leaders had sought to establish a debate between the chief economic advisers to the Eisenhower and Truman Administrations, inviting future Fed chairman, Dr. Arthur Burns, the President's top economist, to discuss economic issues with Leon Keyserling, the former top economic adviser to President Truman, but Dr. Burns had declined.

West Germany was waiting for approval to launch its own atomic-energy program, under which the Germans would be permitted to mine up to nine tons of uranium annually.

Senator McCarthy was upset about allied trade with Communist China, but Japanese firms, with U.S. approval, were presently trading with both Communist China and North Korea.

Egypt's deposed King Farouk had hired a group of international lawyers to block a 15 million dollar auction of his personal belongings left behind in Egypt, including pictures of scantily clad females. The deposed King was buying ads in the world press, warning foreign buyers not to bid on his former possessions, at the risk of legal action. Egyptian Premier Naguib was pressuring the Italian Government to declare Farouk persona non grata, in an effort to force him to leave Italy, in the hope of getting him as far away from Egypt as possible.

Gerald L. K. Smith, hate-monger, had come to Washington the previous week to help Senator McCarthy, pulling strings to block certain unfavorable information from leaking about the Senator. A letter necessary to enter a secret meeting organized by Mr. Smith at the Statler Hotel contained rants about Jews and blacks, while praising Senator McCarthy, expressing a desire for a new anti-Jewish party headed by the Senator.

Senator McCarthy's appeal to citizens to send letters to the President had flopped so badly that the White House had lost some of its fear of the Senator's ability to muster support among the people.

Governor Herman Talmadge of Georgia had quipped, when Adlai Stevenson had spoken in Atlanta and could not be seen by the surrounding crowd, prompting someone to give him a Coca-Cola case on which to stand, that it was the most support Bob Woodruff of Coca-Cola or Coca-Cola had given a Democrat for 20 years.

Joseph Alsop, in Singapore, finds the situation in Malaya "passionately interesting, but for none of the usual reasons." He says that the war against Communism was toilsome, lacking the drama of great actions and great risks, with the problem not solved but under control. He advises that there was no likelihood that the world would soon be rocked by any crisis in Malaya.

Nevertheless, when British officials were questioned about what might happen in Malaya if Indo-China were to fall to the Communists, the responsive look was one of polite panic. The same reaction occurred when asked about the effect in Malaya of the emergence of Communist China as a major military power.

The Malayan Communists were hopeful of "Father Mao" coming to their aid soon, and would have otherwise given up their struggle by this point. The terrorists fighting in the jungle were on the verge of starvation and fighting against overwhelming odds. General Sir Gerald Templer and Malcolm MacDonald, the exceptional men who led the British and Malayan effort, were clear that the war in Malaya was only a function of the larger contest for power in the Far East. The Communist guerilla effort would crumble if the Communists were defeated in Indo-China or if Communist China's military power were decisively halted. But if Indo-China were lost or Southeast Asia began to be menaced by the Chinese military before stability could be achieved in the countries bordering China, then the reverse would occur.

The Malayan Communist guerrillas in the jungle were near the breaking point, their only hope being soon to be able to emerge from the jungle at the arrival of "Father Mao".

There were as many Chinese in the country as the native Malayan population. China, itself, had been gradually occupied by the Chinese people in a series of waves spreading over more than 2,000 years. The Thai people of Siam, for instance, had been driven out of central China by the Chinese advance at about the time of Christ, and were again driven out of south China into their present country in the 10th century. The situation in Malaya somewhat resembled the situation in central China when the Thais fled to save their nation.

The Chinese in Malaya controlled the wealth and enterprise, commerce and the professions, causing bitterness among the Malays, who believed the Chinese had taken over their country. The majority of the Chinese were anti-Communists, but most of the Malayan Communists were also Chinese. Almost all of the Malays and Chinese felt a certain pride in the strength which Communist China had demonstrated. If the Communists were to conduct a drive in Asia showing even greater strength, large numbers of the Malay and Chinese would likely join the guerrillas in the jungle, eventually taking over Malaya.

Thus far, the British had maintained peace between the Malays and the Chinese, promising full independence to the Malay Federation, and no one doubted British sincerity to carry out that promise. But, he observes, an independent Malaya would be a monstrosity unless there were a working partnership first established between the Chinese and the Malayan parts of the population. He suggests that the dictum of Marshall Philbin in Thailand was applicable: "A free world policy in Asia which does not address itself primarily to the problem of Chinese Communist power is not a policy at all." That principle would continue to be true even if the danger in Indo-China were overcome.

A letter writer indicates that the new Far East supreme commander, General John Hull, and his command could have made a wiser decision in the case of the visit by a mother to see her son, an Army private refusing repatriation. He thinks that the Army should have told her before she arrived in Tokyo that she could not see her son. He observes that among the 22 Americans whom the Communists said were refusing repatriation, none of them had indicated their reasons. It had been said that the result of such brainwashing might be corrected with some "home cooking" and care, and that a boy coming face-to-face with his mother would provide a good anodyne to brainwashing.

A letter writer finds the reprinted piece by Lydel Sims of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, titled "Humdrum Luncheon Club", on the editorial page of December 14, regarding a former habitue of social and civic clubs who was founding an anti-social club, one to be an early practitioner of social distancing, to have been a relief from the routine accounts about members of the local civic clubs which regularly found their way into the newspaper, prattle which he regards as expressions of Babbittry. He suggests that the column out of Memphis be regularly reprinted.

A letter from J. R. Dean thanks those who had advised him to go ahead and debate J. P. Long of Lincolnton over the radio, and says that he would be happy to debate him after the first of the year for 30 minutes over WBT or WSOC in Charlotte or via WLON in Lincolnton. He says it was up to Mr. Long to accept or not the challenge. He does not mention the question to be resolved by the debate: dogs or not dogs.

A letter writer informs that Mrs. Jefferson Davis was the only person to be honored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy with the office of honorary president-general, and that a resolution of the organization had said that the office would remain vacant as a memorial to Mrs. Davis. She says that the office was sometimes mistaken for the honorary president of the UDC, a different position.

That's a relief.

A letter from the general chairman of the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas thanks the newspaper for its publicizing of the recent 17th annual Shrine Bowl Game in Charlotte, raising money for crippled children in the Carolinas.

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