The Charlotte News

Saturday, December 26, 1953


Site ed. Note: The front page reports that in Panmunjom, two Communist members of the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission had accused the other three members of a "very serious violation" of "international agreements", at the conclusion of the explanations period by each side to try to convince the non-repatriating prisoners of war to return home. The Czech and Polish members of the Commission, according to a Chinese Communist radio broadcast from Peiping, had made the charges, angry with the majority decision of India, Sweden and Switzerland to end the 90-day explanations period on December 23, refusing a request by the Communists to extend the time for explanations. The Czech and Polish members said it was an arbitrary interpretation of the Armistice. The explanations period had begun later than the appointed date, and so there had been less than the full 90-day period specified in the Armistice. The reason for the delay had been objections by both sides to inadequate facilities for the explanations teams to conduct their interviews of the non-repatriating prisoners.

Informed Western sources reported this date that the Soviet Union had rejected the December 8 Western Big Three proposal for a January 4 meeting of the Big Four foreign ministers in Berlin, and instead proposed January 25 or later for the meeting, claiming that administrative difficulties prevented the earlier meeting. The Soviets, who had originally proposed the meeting, also appeared to object to the Western proposal that the Berlin conference be held in the former Allied Control Authority building in the American sector, instead proposing that the four high commissioners in Germany confer in advance on an alternative site.

Pravda, the official Soviet Government newspaper, reported from Moscow that the Soviets were providing full support to the Government of Guatemala, under attack by U.S. officials as Communist-dominated, stating that the country was not alone in its "struggle for independence" against "American imperialism". Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, John Cabot, had said the previous October that Guatemala was "openly playing the Communist game", and a few days afterward, Senator Alexander Wiley of Wisconsin had told newsmen that "Communism has established a strong beachhead in Guatemala". Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz had denied the charges and foreign observers conceded that he and most of his Government were not Communists, but said that the Communists played a dominant role in the country, controlling the Confederation of Labor, the Government radio and newspapers, and the social security system. Guatemala had expropriated about 40,000 acres of land formerly owned by the U.S. -controlled United Fruit Co., a move which had been applauded by Pravda but condemned by the State Department the previous September for not providing adequate compensation to the company for the lands.

In Indo-China, the vanguard of the Vietminh forces had moved this date into the French-abandoned town of Thakhek, on the Mekong River border with Thailand, completing a rebel drive to cut Indo-China in two. The withdrawal of the French from the area had been announced earlier this date in a communiqué from the high command, saying that the evacuation had been ordered to enable as many troops as possible to be coalesced to meet the Vietminh attack.

In Augusta, Ga., the President this date ordered a progressive reduction of U.S. ground forces in Korea, and announced that two Army divisions would be returned soon to the U.S. as an initial step. The President was said to be in a happy mood as he, the First Lady, her mother, Mrs. John Dowd, their son, Maj. John Eisenhower, his wife and three children, gathered around the Christmas tree the previous night at the "Little White House" at the Augusta National Golf Club. At the urging of wife Mamie, the President informed the press that he had told her on Christmas morning that he was not going to be mad at anyone on Christmas, for he was happy to get away from Washington. He said that the last month had been particularly grueling for the fact of the Bermuda Big Three conference, his speech on December 8 to the U.N. General Assembly proposing the pooling of atomic knowledge and materials by the world's atomic powers, and a series of conferences with Republican Congressional leaders regarding the legislative agenda for 1954. He was currently working on his State of the Union message, to be delivered to Congress in person on January 7. He was also planning to make a television and radio report to the nation on January 4, regarding the work of the Administration thus far and its future goals.

Senator Homer Ferguson of the Senate Republican policy committee predicted this date that Congress would legalize the use in spy trials of evidence obtained by telephone wiretaps. Senator Charles Potter of Michigan also said that he believed such a law would be enacted, but Senator Pat McCarran of Nevada, senior Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee, said it was doubtful that such a law would be passed. Attorney General Herbert Brownell had announced plans to ask Congress to permit the use of wiretap evidence in trials under certain conditions, where it involved espionage. Federal law did not prohibit wiretapping but prevented the use of its derivative evidence in any subsequent prosecution. The rule had been interpreted also to prevent use of the evidence uncovered as a result of leads produced by wiretaps.

In Temoaya, Mexico, 40 miles west of Mexico City, 23 persons had been killed in the small village by a stampede following a Christmas Mass in the local church, injuring 200 other worshipers in the rush for the doors, following a failure of the electric lights. Many of the people who attended the Mass were rural and unfamiliar with electricity. The parish priest said that he had tried in vain to quell the panic. At the conclusion of the Mass, someone had stepped on a wire laying on the floor, producing a blue flash, the short causing the lights to go out. When the lights came on again, there was no one left in the church except the priest and the victims of the stampede. Among those killed had been a two-month old baby girl. Most had died apparently of asphyxiation, but autopsies were to be held.

Hope was abandoned this date for finding any survivors of a U.S. Navy bomber which crashed on an Iceland glacier nine days earlier, the Air Force indicating that the search had been suspended because of bad weather. It had initially been reported that an Air Force search plane had located at least three survivors of the nine-member crew.

In Tokyo, it was reported that singer Phyllis McCann of a touring USO troop had suffered minor first and second degree burns in an explosion of a stove in Korea the previous day, and was taken to a Tokyo Army hospital for treatment. Actress Lucille Bennett was also burned in the incident, both burned by scalding water. Both were part of the Johnny Grant-Terry Moore USO team.

Thus far, after 39 hours of the 78-hour holiday period, the National Safety Council reported that 255 traffic deaths had occurred, exactly half of the total predicted by the Council for the full weekend. In addition, 37 persons had died from injuries in fires and two others in miscellaneous accidents, bringing the total thus far to 318 deaths. Fairly good weather had prevailed over most of the nation, encouraging more people to travel. Traffic deaths during the year had averaged about 102 per day, and in a recent typical 78-hour weekend, there had been 310 traffic deaths, 200 fewer than predicted by the Council for the holiday weekend. North Carolina had thus far suffered ten traffic deaths and three other accidental deaths, while South Carolina had suffered two traffic fatalities and one other accidental death.

Between the two train wrecks in New Zealand and Czechoslovakia on Christmas Eve, there had been as many as 362 persons killed in train accidents in the prior two-day period, with between 100 and 186 killed in the train wreck at Sakvice, Moravia, with an estimated 166 killed in the New Zealand train wreck—subsequently revised downward to 151. In addition, a loaded ore train had left the tracks on an Andes Mountain grade, 12 miles from Lima, Peru, killing six crewmen and injuring a seventh.

Harry Shuford of The News tells of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County having been fairly quiet during Christmas Day, with no one having been hurt in a traffic accident, though there had been 21 minor accidents reported, including three involving mailboxes knocked down by motorists. In City Recorder's Court, 118 cases were set to be tried this date, 38 involving drunk driving arrests during the holiday. In all, 48 arrests had been made the previous day.

As shown in a series of pictures, in Carlsbad, N.M., the mongrel puppy, stuck at the bottom of a 38-foot narrow hole for a dry well, after a five-year old girl (without the sense to get out of a shower of rain, obviously) had dropped the puppy and another previously rescued puppy into the hole, was rescued alive, after a sea anchor was dropped into the hole and the puppy enticed into it—however that worked. Apparently, they decided not to accept the perfectly plausible suggestion of one reader of the story, probably from New Jersey, that they simply fill in the hole, go home, enjoy Christmas and forget about it.

On the editorial page, "A Guarantee against Fraud" indicates that in New York, a legislative investigation had recently revealed that charities were operating in the state under fraudulent pretenses, with one promoter having admitted raising funds while dressed as a priest, another stating that 85 cents of every dollar was retained by the promoter of the charity, another having been shown to have raised $630,000 for a nonexistent cancer hospital, using $435,000 for expenses, and another who had established so many connections for himself with charitable appeals that his family expected to earn $75,000 during the year from the effort. The exposé had created widespread suspicion of charities, reflecting on legitimate charities.

It suggests the need for a stronger statute in North Carolina authorizing a central agency to pass upon all questionable charitable appeals, prior to solicitation. At the local level, Charlotte had already started such a program, as indicated on the page this date by reporter Dick Young. It indicates that the volunteer work of the new bureau to assess the bona fide nature of charities before they began solicitation would help guarantee that Charlotte did not experience the kind of fraudulent campaigns which had taken place in New York.

"Take No Comfort in Beria's Death" suggests that the death by firing squad in Russia of former Vice-Premier and head of the secret police, L. P. Beria, after having been arrested and charged with treason the prior June, should come as no comfort to the West, because the ease with which he had been ousted showed the amount of control consolidated by Premier Georgi Malenkov since becoming Premier the prior March following Stalin's death, and because, as had been observed by Henry Shapiro of the United Press, who had left Russia after 21 years there, the Russians were more at ease after the ouster of Mr. Beria, less fearful of the secret police, making it that much easier for the Kremlin to divert attention from internal to external affairs, increasing the likelihood that the Soviets would turn again to their goal of world domination.

"A New Singer of the Old Refrain" provides four quotes regarding former President Truman and the Democrats, each charging that they had either bungled into the Korean War or lost 450 million Chinese to the free world in Communist China, and finally: "Remember that the words Truman and Democrat mean diplomatic failure, military failure, death and tragedy." It suggests that if the reader believed they were quotes from Senator McCarthy, it would be a wrong conclusion, as they were instead from Governor Dewey, speaking before a Republican $100 per plate dinner in Hartford, Connecticut, earlier in the month.

It indicates that it supplies the quotes because many would be interested in knowing that Governor Dewey had adopted the technique of "the most irresponsible member of his party" and because attempts to rewrite history should be recorded, "whether the attempt is made by a Dewey or a Malenkov."

A piece from the Christian Science Monitor, titled "Rumor Factory", indicates that at Stallings Field in North Carolina, there was an aviation corporation which decided to try to nip rumor-mongering in the bud among its employees, and so established a bulletin board where rumors could be posted, to which a response would be made by the personnel director, supplying the fact of the matter. It posits that it was a simplification of the process of finding out the truth and expects its influence to spread, such that eventually, it would be considered tantamount to robbing one's daughter's piggy bank for a person to tell a story without being able to say that they knew it to be true.

Dick Young of The News discusses, as indicated in the above editorial, a fitting topic for Boxing Day, charitable contributions in the community during 1953, amounting to $1,373,522, contributed by 7,753 persons and organizations, to 58 charities which had filed for the right to solicit, as listed.

He explains that an ordinance required individuals raising funds to apply for a permit, albeit not applicable to solicitation within the membership of a given organization. The process required providing detailed information on the nature of the charity, its officers and chairman, as well as naming others who would assist in the solicitation and those who would disburse the funds collected, and a statement of the method of solicitation. The campaign had to state also whether it had been licensed by the State Board of Public Welfare. The applications were filed with the City Clerk and were then reviewed by members of the Solicitations Commission.

Drew Pearson tells of four police chiefs whom his column had exposed anent corruption during recent times. On September 5, he had reported on Charlotte Police Chief Frank Littlejohn having once protected gambler Allen Cantor, who was wanted as a material witness in a Washington murder. Subsequent to the revelation, the Charlotte City Council had referred the matter to the grand jury and asked Mr. Pearson to substantiate his charges, after which he had testified before the grand jury. On December 16, the grand jury had recommended four presentments against Chief Littlejohn and then issued a report saying that Mr. Pearson's allegations were "substantially correct".

On October 8, the column had told of the Police Chief of Prince Georges County in Maryland, Allen Richards, having pulled a gun on a bystander near the Capitol in Washington after the bystander had inadvertently seen him necking inside an automobile. When Mr. Pearson had asked Chief Richards about the incident, he was warned not to publish the story or the Chief would make him wish he had not done so. The Chief was immediately fired from his job.

On December 15, Mr. Pearson had reported that Police Chief Andrew Ferguson of Hanover, N.H., had been provided a free trip to Europe by the State Department, upon the intervention of Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire and former Governor of New Hampshire, presently the President's chief of staff, Sherman Adams.

On January 24, 1950, the column had reported that Mr. Pearson had looked up real estate tax records of property owned by Police Chief Ray Wallace of Fresno, California, finding that he owned more property than his $5,000 salary would support, resulting in his indictment and eventual conviction for tax evasion.

The two lead investigators for Senator Joseph McCarthy, Roy Cohn and G. David Schine, after having caused a stir earlier in the year with their various clownish antics reported widely in Europe, embarrassing the United States, were again causing problems, this time involving Mr. Cohn checking with Fort Dix, N.J., where recently drafted Private Schine was stationed in the Army, regarding his friend's welfare, stating the inquiry as being on behalf of Senator McCarthy. The inquiry, as it was designed to do, kept Private Schine from having to take his turn on K.P. duty, guard duty and other disagreeable chores. Finally, General Cornelius Ryan, commander of the 19th Infantry Division, tired of the constant inquiries of his lower officers, had contacted Secretary of the Army, Robert Stevens, to complain. Secretary Stevens told the General that he would have to handle it himself. (This episode would boil over into the public eye in the spring, with the nationally televised Army-McCarthy hearings.)

Senator Albert Gore of Tennessee had dressed in wedding attire to attend the wedding of his cousin, Mary Gore, and his old friend, Gordon Dean, former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. Thus attired in tails, he asked his five-year old son, Albert, Jr., how he looked, to which fils answered, in a rather stentorian manner, "as if he were voting on an amendment to the Constitution"—which, hopefully, would be to eliminate the electoral college—, "You'd look better if you had a mustache." Later, at the wedding, Senator Gore told Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee about the comment, to which Senator Kefauver responded, "Serves you right for letting him see so many pictures of Tom Dewey." (Mr. Pearson does not indicate the basis for Senator Kefauver's apparent quip, arising when Governor Dewey had run for the presidency in 1944 and 1948, that he was said to resemble "the man on the wedding cake".)

Secretary of State Dulles was upset with his law partner, Arthur Dean, for abruptly leaving Korea during the midst of the negotiations to try to set up the start of the Korean peace conference, returning home, ostensibly, to consult with the State Department and the President on the matter. State Department officials, however, were convinced that he simply wanted to get home for Christmas and his son's wedding, as Secretary Dulles had given him strict instructions not to break off the negotiations without first consulting Washington. He admonished that the Communists had issued a lot worse accusations than the one used as the pretext for breaking off the negotiations, that the U.S. had conspired with South Korean President Syngman Rhee the prior mid-June in releasing 22,000 North Korean war prisoners of the allies. Mr. Pearson notes that Standard Oil of New Jersey and the other oil companies involved in an antitrust suit brought by the Government had not wanted Mr. Dean to return home, for as long as he was in Korea, the oil companies could hold up the litigation.

A letter writer responds again to the letter of the anonymous parent of December 21, upset about his or her child having been suspended for three days from high school for being caught smoking in the school locker room, commenting that he believed the principal ought have the right to expel any child from school to maintain discipline, provided it was based on the established and promulgated rules. He indicates that he did not intend to condone or condemn the action of either the principal or the parent, but rather defended the authority of the principal to take action.

A letter writer looks back at 1953 and finds that excess taxes, heavy European aid, unemployment, the rising cost of living, and the fight against Communism were just a few of the things which were "drags" confronting the American people during the year. She says that in 1954, though the Korean War had ended, there was the hope of modified or lower taxes, less waste and graft in government spending, firing of unnecessary government personnel, and more and better food at moderate cost. She urges that everyone had to work to provide better and cleaner government, to achieve tolerance and understanding of less fortunate lands, to obtain fair and just treatment of returning war veterans, and to have a "warm interest" in fellow workers. She urges faith in God.

A letter writer thanks her friends who had written or spoken to members of the City School Board regarding consideration of her for a vacancy which the Board had filled the previous Friday.

A letter from Blacksburg, S.C., wishes the staff of the newspaper "all the joys of this blessed Christmastide" and a Happy and Prosperous New Year, also thanking Charles Crutchfield, head of Jefferson Standard Broadcasting Co., WBT radio and WBTV, for his comments in the newspaper of December 21, congratulating the newspaper on its 65th anniversary.

Second Day of Christmas: Two amendments, one to nix the electoral college as an anachronism and one to nix the guns, as anachronisms.

Third Day of Christmas: Three Boxes of Trump Votes Found in Seine.

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