The Charlotte News

Saturday, March 21, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports, via George A. McArthur, that allied Sabre jets had shot down five enemy MIG-15s and damaged seven others over North Korea this date. Twenty U.S. B-29's hit enemy troop and supply centers prior to dawn.

The Fifth Air Force announced that the previous week's air battles had resulted in five enemy MIGs being shot down and one other probably destroyed, with two more damaged in aerial battles, against no Sabres lost. Enemy ground fire, however, had shot down two Thunderjets during the week, with two others, along with a propeller driven aircraft, lost to other causes.

In ground fighting, there were only sporadic clashes, as steady rain soaked the entire battlefront until nearly dawn.

Correspondent Forrest Edwards, on the western front, tells of U.S. Marines, entrenched on a little ridge jutting into no-man's land, calling the war a "hole in the head", seeking to protect their own heads while picking off enemy troops entrenched in an outpost 50 yards distant, with the enemy main line just behind it. The close proximity gave rise to sniper warfare. He describes a young lieutenant half-walking and half-running down the zigzagged trench, his knees bent and his back curved, with his head tucked low between his shoulders, crouching still lower when he met each sharp angle, at which points the Chinese troops took aim and shot directly into the trench. He said that the "Gooks" had every one of those angles zeroed in with their rifles and machine guns, and that no one should say that all of the "Chinks" were lousy shots, that some were not that great, but others were good. Mr. Edwards describes several bullets hitting the hillside behind the trench, as allied soldiers returned suppression fire, designed to cause the enemy to keep their heads down.

In Moscow, Prime Minister Georgi Malenkov was reported by Pravda to have resigned his post as secretary of the Communist Party's powerful Central Committee, replaced by a five-man Secretariat, headed by former Ukrainian party boss Nikita Khrushchev, who would take over the task of administering the party, operating under the leadership of the Committee's ten-member Presidium, still headed by Mr. Malenkov, allowing the latter to devote full attention to his new post as Prime Minister. The story also lists the other four members of the Secretariat.

In Prague, Antonin Zapotocky, 68, a former Nazi concentration camp trusty wanted by the Dutch for war crimes, was elected Communist president of Czechoslovakia this date. The Czech Parliament had voted unanimously for him, as replacement for deceased President Klement Gottwald, who had died a week earlier after suffering a cold at the funeral of Joseph Stalin in Moscow. The parliamentary vote was a mere formality, the selection already determined by the Communist Party and the Communist-dominated National Front. Mr. Zapotocky had been Premier since the Communists had seized power of the country in February, 1948, after threatening President Eduard Benes with bloodshed unless he agreed to an all-Communist Cabinet. The Central Committee had recommended Vilem Siroky to be the new Premier.

In London, Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia wound up his historic visit to Britain this date with the declaration: "All that we have hoped for has been attained. We have reached full agreement." He had received a pledge from the British to stand by Yugoslavia in the event of aggression toward it. There was no ironclad treaty formed or formal pact signed, but the British Government had indicated that the two governments declared their "common interest in resistance to aggression and the preservation of national independence."

Western observers within the British Foreign Office reported encouraging signs of a new conciliatory attitude of Russia toward the West, a feeling which had been heightened by a Kremlin promise of immediate action toward freeing British civilian prisoners in North Korea, as communicated by Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov to the Foreign Office the previous night. The latter warned, however, against premature optimism. In addition, a Soviet commander in Germany had proposed talks between the British and the Russians to avoid future East-West air incidents, and expressed regret over the death of seven British airmen in the shooting down of a British bomber near Hamburg the prior week by Soviet MIGs.

The Eisenhower Administration apparently had rejected proposals for a large increase in former President Truman's 46.3 billion dollar defense budget. Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson had said in a statement the previous day at a news conference that there would be no increase in the Truman defense budget for the current fiscal year. Mr. Wilson said that he believed reductions could be made in manpower and spending without weakening combat strength, forecasting a reduction by July 1 of 3.5 million persons presently in uniform. The President had said in his press conference on Thursday that the nation could not afford to reduce its strength, but could save on administrative costs. Mr. Wilson said that the monthly rate of defense spending had been frozen at the January level of nearly four billion dollars. He also expressed the hope that draft calls, running at about 53,000 men per month, could be reduced.

Senator Charles Tobey of New Hampshire this date denounced Republican opponents to the confirmation of Charles Bohlen as Ambassador to Russia, saying that they were trying "to stab the President in the back." He said that they would not succeed and that Mr. Bohlen would be confirmed on Monday in an overwhelming vote of confidence for the President. Senator Joseph McCarthy demanded that Secretary of State Dulles be placed under oath and questioned further by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding the nomination, after Secretary Dulles had disputed, at a press conference the previous day, the contention by Senator Pat McCarran that Secretary Dulles had cleared Mr. Bohlen over objections by the State Department's new security officer. Senators McCarthy, McCarran and Styles Bridges were leading the opposition to the nomination. Without naming names, Senator Tobey said that the small number of critics were "not worthy to unlace either Acheson's or Bohlen's shoes." Part of the objection to Mr. Bohlen was that he had served under Secretary of State Acheson during the Truman Administration.

Between Hong Kong and Macau, a 42-foot sailing vessel flying the U.S. flag and carrying two U.S. news and radio correspondents and five others had been captured this date by a Chinese Communist armed vessel, according to the Royal Naval Observatory, reporting the previous night. The yacht was believed to be owned by U.S. newspaper and radio correspondent Richard Applegate, who had gone on a one-day cruise to Macau with an International News Service correspondent, Don Dixon, intending to pick up International News Photo Service photographer David Cicero for the return trip to Hong Kong. It was not immediately clear whether the yacht was on its way to Macau or returning to Hong Kong at the time of capture.

In Washington, N.J., a dairy farmer and nine members of his family lost their lives in a head-on collision the previous night as they were on their way to do their weekly shopping. Their 1953 sedan was hit by a tractor-trailer truck on a two-lane highway, in what State police said was one of the worst traffic accidents in the history of New Jersey. A passenger in the truck said that they had been following a coal truck on the highway when it put on its brakes and pulled over to the right shoulder, at which point they saw a car coming straight at them, prompting the driver of the truck to pull to the left shoulder to try to avoid the collision, unsuccessful when the car pulled to the same shoulder also.

Near Oakland, Calif., an investigation was launched into a flaming crash the previous night of a four-engine DC-4 plane belonging to a non-scheduled carrier, Transocean Air Lines, which carried 35 passengers and crew members, all of whom had perished after the plane struck a hill near Decoto, just a few minutes after being cleared for landing at the Oakland Airport. The plane had been flying through a drizzle when it crashed. The 30 passengers were Air Force personnel from a base at Roswell, N.M. The worst California air disaster to date had occurred in the area of Decoto, when a United Air Lines plane had crashed under similar circumstances on August 24, 1951, killing 50 aboard.

In Santa Rosa, Calif., a school for delinquent girls had undergone rioting the previous day, but had quieted to an uneasy tension during the night, though the director of the California Youth Authority had called the situation a potential powder keg. Police had placed an all-night cordon around the school grounds following two riots during the previous 24 hours, and the CYA director had been provided authority by Governor Earl Warren to alert a company of National Guardsmen from Santa Rosa in case of an emergency, not yet ordered to the grounds of the school. School officials were overheard to comment that the recent breakup of a homosexual ring might have incited the riot. The first riot had occurred at dinner time on Thursday, when 15 girls began breaking windows, overturning tables and ripping out window screens, escaping, but then being captured within hours. The second riot occurred when 15 girls broke out of a maximum security compound the previous day, by wrapping sweaters around their fists and then smashing windows, arming themselves with glass slivers and knives which they had taken from the school kitchen. CYA officers said that they would seek a court order to transfer six of the ringleaders to the Sonoma County jail and another six to the Napa State Hospital, where they could be held in maximum security—apparently super-duper maximum, as the second group had escaped from the maximum security CYA compound.

In New York, Mickey Jelke III, margarine heir, was transported to Rikers Island to begin serving an eight-month sentence imposed after his guilty plea to possessing two guns, one found in his automobile and the other in his apartment when he had been arrested in the vice case the previous August, on which he had been recently convicted for procuring as prostitutes two young women, out of three on whom he was charged, to support him while he awaited his inheritance, his sentencing in that case, tried at length before a jury, scheduled for March 27.

In Las Vegas, a man had been robbed the previous night of $17 by a gunman who then shoved him in front of a passing train, causing the man's left arm to be mangled so badly that doctors said it probably would have to be amputated at the elbow.

It was spring-like weather in most sections of the country, despite showers having been forecast for most of the Eastern half. Rain fell early along the West Coast from Northern California to Washington, while light snow fell over the northern and central Rockies. Fair skies prevailed over the southwest Gulf and along the East Coast.

In Chicago, an unidentified taxpayer returned to the IRB office the previous day to register a correction on his tax return, after having signed his return originally with an "X", explaining that he could not write English, changing his signature to "XX", saying that he had forgotten that he had two names.

Smart-alecks of the type often wind up in jail for filing false tax returns.

In Hollywood, actress-singer Celeste Holm signed a television contract with NBC, providing that she would star in a series as a dramatic actress, singer and comedienne. That would not work out so well, as the series would last for only seven episodes in fall, 1954, the audience by that point demanding much more, "The Lone Ranger", "Dragnet", and "Superman" having set the pace...

On the editorial page, "Eisenhower Wins Two Major Tests" finds that the President had scored a victory over Congressman Daniel Reed, chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, and his followers, who had wanted an immediate tax cut of ten billion dollars, whereas the President had taken the more logical stance, insisting first on making progress toward balancing the budget before providing a tax cut. After the President had said that he could not make any major cuts in spending within the defense budget without compromising security, and, given the fact that it was virtually impossible to bring the budget into balance without sizable cuts in defense, Congressman Reed had given up his efforts to obtain a tax cut immediately. But he did lash out at the President for failing to live up to his campaign promise of tax reduction, though the President had responded that he had never made such a promise, only that he would make every effort to do so.

The President's second victory had been to obtain confirmation of Charles Bohlen as Ambassador to Russia, following Mr. Bohlen having come under attack by Senators Joseph McCarthy and Styles Bridges because he had served as an interpreter for FDR at the Yalta conference, and had said during his confirmation hearings that there was nothing wrong with the agreement, as territory ceded to Russia had already been within its grasp anyway, and the U.S., at the time, desperately needed Russia's help in its prospective land invasion of Japan, believed necessary to end the war, prior to the first successful test of the atomic bomb in mid-July, 1945, during the Potsdam conference.

The President stood by Mr. Bohlen rather than withdrawing his name, showing courage in doing so, and sent Secretary of State Dulles to a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, giving him instructions to stand firmly behind the nominee. The Committee eventually voted unanimously to approve the nomination, and Majority Leader Taft had just predicted that when the vote came up the following Monday on the floor of the Senate, only a handful of Senators would register opposition.

It concludes that the President, in both instances, had demonstrated the kind of leadership which Americans had elected him to provide.

"Full of Bullion" indicates that the Wall Street Journal had reported that the Republican Task Force Bullion had finished the job of counting the gold in Fort Knox, and had determined that it was all present, 32.4 billion dollars worth. It indicates that while there must be something to be said about it, it cannot think of anything.

"Minimum Wage Bill Merits Passage" favors passage of the state minimum wage law, which would provide for 55 cents per hour, or $30 per week, for workers engaged only in intrastate commerce, and thus not subject to Federal minimum wage laws. Presently, there were about 35,000 such workers earning less than the proposed minimum wage in the state, mainly hotel, restaurant, and laundry workers, plus certain types of retail store employees. They were one reason why North Carolina ranked 44th in per capita income. But 250,000 workers in the state engaged only in intrastate commerce already earned more than the proposed minimum wage, and so it was ridiculous to suggest, as had some critics of the bill, that its passage would wreck the economy of the state and trigger an inflationary spiral.

It finds that the only criticism of the bill was that it was unrealistically low by comparison to the Federal 75-cent minimum wage, and that too many workers were exempted. But, it concludes, it would be better than no bill at all.

"On Manikins and Atomic War" indicates that a long-time reader had called recently to suggest that the use of civilian dummies in the atomic bomb tests was a psychological blunder, having a bad effect on civilian nerves, including those of children. It indicates that its first reaction was that the reader had been watching too many television thrillers or was trying again to stop smoking, but he had eventually convinced the editor that he was sincere.

It decides that he had a point, as the Atomic Energy Commission workers photographed placing the manikins appeared gruesome, and, it suspects, Radio Moscow would turn the worst possible propaganda light on the pre-blast preparations.

But it also finds that the pictures presented on the front page of the previous day's newspaper, showing what had occurred to a two-story house located 3,500 feet from ground-zero, dispelled its doubt as to the psychological effect of the test. The nation had no civil defense and very little knowledge about how to prepare civil defense before the St. Patrick's Day blast had demonstrated what happened to houses, cars and manikins inside those houses and cars at the time of a relatively small atomic blast.

The nation did not have an adequate force of interceptors to prevent planes of a potential enemy from reaching primary target cities in the country and also did not have an adequate warning network. It concludes that it was not a time for shaky nerves, but rather for facing the hard facts of warfare in the atomic age, that the country was no longer out of reach of an enemy, that the guns and butter approach to foreign policy had left the nation with a lot of butter and few guns, in the face of the knowledge that even a small atomic weapon was vastly more destructive than anything previously devised by man.

"Traffic Tip" provides a memo to the head of the Traffic Bureau of the City Police Department, that the current issue of U.S. Municipal News had reported that traffic citations in Tucson, Arizona, were handed out in the form of a self-mailing envelope, in which the violator could deposit his fine and mail it in to the traffic court, causing reduction in police operational costs, higher revenues and happier motorists. It recommends the practice for Charlotte.

A piece from the New York Times, titled "March at the Turn", indicates that it had been a chilly March but that the chill could not last too much longer, as the "wild and growing things" had begun to respond, with the robins staying, finding shelter in the brushy valleys and the pines of the hills until the cold would finally end. It goes on to describe the first buds of spring.

Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee, writing in the New Republic, indicates that in early February, 1953, he had introduced two concurrent resolutions in the Senate, one providing for rules and procedures in Congressional investigations and the other, rules of procedure for derogatory remarks made during debate by a member of Congress. He explains that he took the step in response to the perceived loss of liberties in the country in the struggle against Communism, and the determination that unless those causing the loss were curbed, the traditional liberties would be lost to those who were adopting the tactics normally associated with totalitarian states.

He goes on to explain both of the resolutions.

Drew Pearson indicates that he had obtained the secret order from Undersecretary of Defense Roger Kyes directed to the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, mandating the heaviest military budget cuts since the end of World War II. The order showed a sincere effort to balance the overall national budget by cutting 4.3 billion dollars, but the cut occurred when the U.S. had only 75 jet planes in Europe against Russia's 8,000, and at a time when other planes had been menaced across the world, in addition to those shot down by the Communists over Germany.

The budget cuts were based on the assumption that combat would continue at no less than the present rate for the ensuing two years, implying a pessimistic view of the Korean War by the White House.

President Truman's defense budget, which Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson had recently said he could not cut, had called for a 45.5 billion defense budget for fiscal year 1954, whereas the National Security Council, on an order from Budget director Joseph Dodge, had now proposed to reduce the amount to 41.2 billion, the heads of the three branches having been given only three weeks in which to comply with the cuts. He reprints the entire order of Mr. Kyes, dated March 9.

Marquis Childs discusses Senator Taft and his relationship to the Administration, finding accurate the prediction of a friend of the Senator a year earlier, that if the Senator did not fulfill his life-long ambition to become President, he would not be bitter. To the contrary, he appeared to be a man who ate well and slept well, with his complexion being that "of a contented baby". He appeared to be thoroughly enjoying his role as Majority Leader, a position which was at least as powerful as that of the President.

He was aware that the new personnel in the Government were taking a long time to learn their jobs, and there was a certain indecisiveness at the White House during the weekly meetings with Congressional leaders, with the President not always realizing that he had to call the signals if things were to get done.

Senator Taft had gleaned from the President that if the Foreign Relations Committee wanted to modify the language of the President's resolution denouncing the Russians for their perversion of the Yalta and Potsdam agreements, then it would be okay. The Senator also never believed that the special commission appointed by the President could agree on changes in Taft-Hartley, and now that they had reached loggerheads without a conclusion, the ball had shifted to the committees in Congress to determine the necessary changes.

Senator Taft was following the agreement he and General Eisenhower had made the previous September, wherein the General had promised that, as President, he would reduce Government spending, with a budget of not more than 70 billion dollars for fiscal year 1954 and not more than 60 billion for the following year. Secretary of the Treasury George Humphrey and Budget director Joseph Dodge had promised Senator Taft that they would come up with a revised budget not later than May 1. It was late to begin hearings on appropriation bills, and the goal of recess by July 4, previously set by Senator Taft, would likely not be achieved. But the Senator was not troubled by that prospect and assured that there would be temporary appropriations to tide the Government over until the fall, when Congress could return in October to finish the job.

"All the fretting and worrying in the world bounces right off this cool, collected citizen from Ohio. You feel that not even one of those hairs he combs across his large, balding head has been changed."

The piece, painting the rosy picture of Senator Taft's health, would prove ironic, as the Senator would die of cancer at the end of July.

Robert C. Ruark reports that upon his returning from East Africa and his safari, he had determined that he no longer wished to live in that region of the world, as he had once aspired to do. The Mau Mau had made life too dangerous, and the "murderous infection", which had originally been exclusively within the Kikiyu tribe, appeared to be spreading among the other five million natives in Kenya. Adding to the problem were the counter-measures being undertaken by those who were considered to be good Kikiyu against the Mau Mau, which could become just as dangerous to whites in Africa as the Mau Mau. It also appeared to be spreading from one frontier to another, from Kenya to Tanganyika to Uganda to the Congo to Rhodesia, ultimately linking the troubles in the south and the troubles in the north.

He had found Nairobi more symptomatic of war than anything he had seen even during World War II. Everybody seemed to be involved in a commando raid or just returning from same, including staid businessmen, young boys and old men. Everyone had a gun. Women were being brave, but were becoming increasingly nervous, as their husbands became the object of Mau Mau raids. After a time, one wearied of guns everywhere and of constant suspicion of everyone, always having to lock up, draw the curtains, abide by curfews, roadblocks and mass raids on help.

He indicates that if he were a landowner in Kenya, he would likely stay on and shoot the Mau Mau until one of them shot him, for the reason that it had been a Communist-designed terror campaign aimed at dispersing the settlers and leaving the country wide open to misrule by "ignorant savages", eventually giving way to Russian occupation. He indicates that Kenya was too important to the Western world to let it be destroyed by "savage superstitions and barbarism". But since he was not a settler in Kenya and was unwilling to spend his days in constant fear, eliminating the beautiful peace of the lovely land, he was returning to "the New York jungle, to another kind of jangled nerve. There is a memory of a mountain and a lake and a day and a night, and another memory of implicit horror such as is seldom seen. I hope the Mau Mau are lickable in Kenya, but the recipe escapes me. You simply cannot kill them all."

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