The Charlotte News

Wednesday, March 4, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that, according to a broadcast out of Moscow, Joseph Stalin was gravely ill and in a coma, after suffering a brain stroke on Sunday night, more than 48 hours earlier, and leaders of the Communist satellites in Europe had been summoned to Moscow, adding to speculation among Western diplomats that he might already be dead—actually to die the following day. Because of censorship, Western correspondents in Moscow were unable to indulge in speculation, as even the official announcement of the illness had been held up while it was screened by censors.

The belief was, a correct one, that his successor had been decided long ago as Georgi Malenkov, a ruthless follower of Stalin's methods. There was also the possibility that V. M. Molotov and L. P. Beria might be included in the new setup of the government, some believing that Molotov had taken the lead as the potential successor. There was considerable doubt that the new leadership, regardless of who headed the Government, would generate any easier relations vis-à-vis the West.

President Eisenhower expressed his sympathy to the Russian people this date regarding the serious illness of Premier Stalin, indicating that God would watch over the Soviet peoples "regardless of the identity of government personalities." He indicated that the Russian people, "the children of the same God who is the father of all peoples everywhere", shared in the world's longing for "a friendly and peaceful world." After learning of the Soviet Premier's illness, the President met with CIA director Allen Dulles and discussed the international situation which might transpire as a result of Stalin's illness. The President also remained in close communication with Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, conferring with him before entering a meeting with the National Security Council.

In London, Prime Minister Winston Churchill sent his private secretary to the Soviet Embassy to express his regret regarding the illness of the Premier and to "offer his sympathy".

Members of Congress disagreed on the effect which the death of Stalin might have on the world, with Senator Alexander Wiley of Wisconsin, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, indicating that "history may be turning a corner" and that the question was whether or not the world would see a "repetition of Roman history when Caesar fell". Senator Frank Carlson of Kansas expressed the hope that the successor would be "more amenable to world peace" but that developments might bode ill for the world. Congressman Dewey Short of Missouri, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, warned that the hierarchy of the Kremlin was closely knit and that he expected Malenkov to take over, whom he regarded as being more dangerous than Stalin, as he was not mature. He believed that a war with Russia would probably result from discord or unrest behind the Iron Curtain, forcing the Soviet leaders to make war to maintain their control at home. Senator Mike Monroney of Oklahoma said that Russia could be off-balance for some time to come, as a country could not pass clear title to dictatorships, no matter how well plans for it were laid. Senator Walter George of Georgia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, stated that if Stalin were to die, there might be a breakup within the Kremlin which could mean greater hope for peace, after a short period of solidarity in the wake of his death. Senator John Sparkman of Alabama, the former Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 1952, cautioned against expecting too much from Stalin's death or disability. Congressman John Vorys of Ohio, a top-ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who had authored the pending House resolution condemning Russia for distortion of World War II international agreements, said that he would not expect much change if Stalin were to be replaced.

The announcement of Premier Stalin's illness occurred exactly 20 years after the inauguration of FDR for his first term, on March 4, 1933. One of President Roosevelt's most notable acts on foreign policy during his first year in office had been to recognize the Soviet Union diplomatically in October of that year, inviting the Stalin Government to send a representative to Washington to discuss recognition. Maxim Litvinoff was then sent to Washington and recognition was formally announced on November 17. The Soviets had been seeking recognition since the Soviet revolution of 1917. Mr. Litvinoff had died in 1952.

In Korea, South Korean infantrymen regained the top of a bloodied outpost hill position on the central Korean front this date, following 23 hours of savage close-quarters fighting with an estimated 500 Chinese Communists. The South Koreans had withdrawn from the outpost at midday to allow allied warplanes to turn the hill into a smoking mass of bomb craters and debris. In the late afternoon, the South Koreans had counter-attacked and forced their way back to the top of the unnamed hill, southeast of Kumsong. It was reported that about 180 casualties had been suffered by the enemy, including 120 dead.

General James Van Fleet, who had recently retired as commander of the U.S. Eighth Army in Korea, said, in a voluntary statement to the House Armed Services Committee this date, that the U.N. forces could win a military victory in Korea without necessarily broadening the war. He said that he would have to discuss details, however, in executive session. He indicated that the war situation had been stabilized along lines of the allies' choice, and was not a checkmate or stalemate. He reiterated his statement made at his retirement, that the U.N. forces could have won a military victory in the spring of 1951, prior to the beginning of the truce negotiations that June. At that point, he pointed out, a Communist offensive had been repulsed by the U.N. forces, who had crippled the enemy so seriously that they could have driven on to victory had the U.N. command not ordered a halt for the truce talks. He stated that the enemy was then hurt badly, which was why they had requested the opportunity to discuss things at the conference table. He said that the allies had then not followed up in the field and pursued the enemy to "polish them off".

The Communist bloc nations had begun to chortle over the troubles of the Voice of America. The Voice had not been broadcasting anything about the inquiry into its operations by the Senate Investigations subcommittee headed by Senator Joseph McCarthy, with a spokesman at the State Department stating that radio never carried anything about itself, pro or con. Warsaw radio had said that the most damaging testimony before the McCarthy committee had been that the Voice was ineffective abroad, and that had stirred the indignation of the "infamous McCarthy", that the staff of the Voice was "a criminal gang gathered for spreading hatred and crime."

Senator McCarthy announced this date that the State Department had agreed to provide a memorandum on the security files of two Department employees to his Senate Investigations subcommittee. The subcommittee's general counsel, Roy Cohn, said, in an oral public report to Senator McCarthy and the subcommittee, that the new State Department liaison man working with Congressional investigators would produce the memorandum, but provided no further details. It was not immediately clear whether the memorandum would contain all of the information sought by Senator McCarthy. In the past, such requests had been rejected and it was the first time the issue had squarely arisen during the new Administration. Former President Truman and many of his predecessors had turned down similar requests from Congress on the ground that there was no right to demand confidential documents from the executive department.

The Senate Democratic policy committee indicated that the Republican-revised resolution condemning Russia for "enslaving" other peoples was unacceptable. The Republican policy committee had given formal endorsement to the amended resolution, passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the previous day by a partisan vote of 8 to 6. The amendment had sought to ensure that by condemning Soviet perversion of the World War II agreements between the Big Three at Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam, it was not also impliedly providing approval to the agreements, themselves. The Democrats indicated that the amendments to the resolution, which had originally been submitted by Secretary of State Dulles, had "emasculated" a Cold War propaganda device sought by the President. It was believed that the Democratic opposition might jeopardize chances for an overwhelming vote for the resolution, which Secretary Dulles had hoped would maximize its propaganda effect.

In Raleigh, the State Motor Vehicles Department, a farm organization, automobile dealers and auto parts wholesalers this date joined in support of legislation which would restore mechanical inspection of automobiles in the state, as recommended by Governor William B. Umstead. A Raleigh truck driver was the lone witness who objected to the bill, in a public hearing before State Senate Judiciary Committee 2. The bill would be voted on the following Friday.

In Markfield, England, a band of fox hunters had come out in Britain's heaviest March fog to find their 37 pack dogs, which had outrun their mounted masters the previous day and vanished in the fog. The master of the hunt had called it "unprecedented", that they had never lost the pack before.

There was a fog upon Markfield, and the hunters' friends had lost their way....

On the editorial page, "What Mr. Benson Really Said" indicates that Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson had met this date with corn growers and feeders, and the following day was scheduled to consult with livestock men, while on Friday, would address the problem of declining turkey prices. He had already met with cotton producers, dairy men, wheat growers and millers. He was, in the process, gathering data on the various farm and livestock products over which he had jurisdiction, hearing the ideas of the producers. There had arisen much confusion about the new Secretary's policies and the piece seeks to clarify them.

He had made a policy speech in St. Paul, Minnesota, and provided lengthy interviews with U.S. News & World Report, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other publications, all of which appeared clear and consistent in terms of his actual statements. The confusion had arisen from interpretations of certain phrases he had used, such as "disaster insurance" and "relief programs" to describe the farm price-support program. Many members of Congress from farm states, including some Republicans, had contributed to that confusion. It thus quotes extensively from his St. Paul speech, and indicates that Mr. Benson had stuck with those views during his interviews and in a speech in Des Moines, that he was in favor of price supports continuing, but that inefficiency should not be subsidized and that relief programs for farm emergencies should be operated as such and not as aid to the entire agricultural industry, that emergency programs should be terminated when the emergency on which they were premised had ceased to exist.

It says it likes the Secretary's approach, finds him honest, straightforward and well-suited to the job, a man of good will, who had the interests of the farmer at heart and understood that the welfare of the farmer, the consumer and the taxpayer were all inextricably related. It finds that he was not going to sell anyone down the river and should be provided a chance to apply his talents and philosophy to the country's agriculture.

"The CAP Deserves Working Funds" indicates that during the week, the State Appropriations Committee would consider a modest request from the North Carolina Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, desiring $30,000 per year for the ensuing biennium. It finds the request worthy, as CAP flyers took to the air when other fliers became lost, reporting of the search to fixed and mobile radio units, flying their own planes on their own time, receiving only the gas for the planes from the Government when the search was approved by military officials. Sometimes, the Air Force gave CAP fliers obsolete equipment, but the radiomen often used their own gear and served without pay.

It indicates that the organization would also be of great worth in the event of war, flood or storm, because of the mobile communications network and the 122 aircraft at its disposal in the state. It was also training some 900 young cadets in the state in non-flight aspects of aviation.

The request was for repair and maintenance of CAP-owned aircraft and Air Force aircraft on loan to the organization, for purchase of communications and auxiliary power supply equipment, expenses incurred in search-and-rescue missions, and clerical work. It recommends to the Assembly that it approve the request, as the CAP, with its volunteer members, performed a vital service.

"Urban Redevelopment's National Scope" indicates that it was heartening that citizens of several other states had misgivings about the "security" system of automobile liability insurance, as had been noted in a preceding editorial, particularly after realization that those states had considerable experience with that law. Other states also had considerable experience regarding urban redevelopment, which had been examined by United States Municipal News in its current issue, finding that rebuilding of blighted areas surrounding business cores of cities would create up to 10 billion dollars of construction business in the ensuing few years. At least 15 cities had redevelopment projects ongoing, with another 100 cities and towns slated to start programs within the following year. There were 110 such projects in the final stages of planning or development, and of those, 56 would be predominantly residential, 11 entirely for housing, eight exclusively industrial, and ten exclusively commercial. Eleven would be predominantly industrial, nine predominantly commercial, and four for mostly public purposes, such as schools, playgrounds and parks.

Although a few cities had entered redevelopment several years earlier, most of the program had only gotten underway following the passage of the Housing Act of 1949.

It indicates that it had pride in those efforts and recommends renewal of the resolve to continue them.

A piece from the Winston-Salem Journal, titled "The Megapolis", indicates that anyone who ventured north of Washington by car soon realized that something dangerous and dreadful, and "perhaps wonderful", was happening, as the highways were wide but crowded with fast-moving traffic. The cities followed one another in such "rapid and proliferating succession that the luckless driver (if he has wits enough left to give it a thought) wonders how all these people managed to make a living, get enough to eat and endure the awful crowds."

When the traveler reached the Merritt Parkway through Connecticut, after passing New York City, he could only then draw an easy breath and view forest and open space. But even there were occasional factories and smokestacks, and crowded residential areas, never permitting the traveler to get very far from cities and hurrying people. Some 30 million persons, about a fifth of the nation, lived in that 400-mile corridor between Boston and Washington. They had old and overpowering influence on the nation's and the world's thinking, its manner of speech and social relations.

A Frenchman, Professor Jean Gottmann, had called the corridor a "megapolis", derived from the Greek, meaning "great city". It agrees with the label, with it possessing the capitals of art, finance, politics, industry, commerce and big crime, together with "big crowds, big slums, and dirt and dust, smoke and noise."

"The harassed driver might consider, with some relish, that a few well-placed H-bombs, correctly fused, could destroy it all. Then he might reflect, perhaps with a shudder and a compulsive acceleration of his automobile, that here is where the first bombs might fall."

Drew Pearson tells of the death of former Senator Robert La Follette, the younger, who had died February 24. A statue of his father, who had served in the Senate before him, was present in the Capitol as one of the pair of statues placed by Wisconsin, two permitted to each state, and the tip of the bronze shoe was worn shiny by thousands of admirers touching its feet. He indicates that the elder would not look harshly on his eldest son, were he to know that the latter had taken his own life, as, in a way, suggests Mr. Pearson, it was through thinking of his father that he did so, for he believed he had let his father down. Actually, he had not, as following in the footsteps of a man "as brilliant and meteoric as the elder Bob, a man who had run for President, had come so close to building up a third party, had held the state of Wisconsin and much of the Northwest in the hollow of his hand, was a difficult thing to do." The younger Bob had all the respect of his fellow Senators for courage that his father had, and with more stability.

The younger Senator had passed the La Follette-Monroney bill for the reorganization of Congress, had bucked the National Association of Manufacturers in a long exposé of civil liberties infractions, showing how NAM had covertly spent money to influence the press, secretly subsidizing columnist George Sokolsky, and had exposed the murders by coal operators of miners and union organizers in Harlan County, Ky. He had been president pro tem of the Senate and had dared to buck FDR on lifting the arms embargo to foreign nations out of fear that the country would drift into war.

He had also accumulated enemies, as had his father, and they had concentrated everything against him to defeat him in 1946, as NAM had poured in money and left-wing labor had poured in votes, resulting in his 5,400-vote loss to Joseph McCarthy, the votes constituting that margin having come, ironically, from the Communist Party, which had concentrated against him. Mr. McCarthy had then welcomed Communist support, asking journalists rhetorically, "They have a right to vote, haven't they?"

After his defeat for re-election, Mr. La Follette was considered for several Federal jobs, such as TVA administrator, but finally returned to the practice of law. He was on the board of directors of Sears and represented the United Fruit Co., but it was fairly humdrum compared with his days of battle in the Senate, soon causing him to become a little depressed. He would occasionally have lunch at the Mayflower Hotel by himself, and just sit and think. He probably had thought about how, after his father had helped make Wisconsin one of the greatest progressive states in the nation, it was now represented by a "man who had started a reign of terror and witch-hunting that might lead to fascism." When he attended the 25th wedding anniversary of his old friend, Senator Lister Hill of Alabama, the former Senator had spoken sadly of that change, saying that he should never have let Joseph McCarthy beat him, and had let his father down in doing so.

Troubled also with a severe heart condition, he had gone to the Capitol and taken one last look at the statue of his father, gone home, phoned his wife and ended his life.

Washington was buzzing about the lavish living quarters at the Wardman Park Hotel of new Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson, former president of General Motors, consisting of 10 bedrooms and 10 baths.

"Bugeye" Barker, HUAC investigator, had taken the rap for Committee chairman Harold Velde's mistake regarding Agnes Meyer.

Budget director Joseph Dodge was so suspicious of secretaries that he opened his own mail.

There was a suggestion that Pentagon menus list the calories alongside the prices of each dish, to help reduce the weight of officers.

Rogers Stefan, the White House backstage business manager, had instituted new rules against smoking and against loitering.

Senator McCarthy was conducting a secret investigation of Supreme Court Justice, and former Attorney General, Tom Clark.

Congressman Pat Sutton of Tennessee had been hinting that he would seek to contest Senator Estes Kefauver's re-election effort the following year. Mr. Pearson indicates that Mr. Sutton appeared to believe voters would have forgotten how he had pulled wires to fix a famous tax fund involving his father-in-law.

The Communist Daily Worker had quietly purged its veteran Washington correspondent, Rob Hall, replacing him with party-liner Harry Raymond.

Marquis Childs discusses the difficulties of the new Administration to effect change, with a bureaucracy largely protected by the Civil Service system. In 40 days, the Korean War was still proceeding, the budget was still unbalanced, and defense spending was still at the rate of four or five billion dollars per month. No reasonable person had expected a miraculous change equal to the high expectations generated by campaign rhetoric, but the early period had shown the formidable barrier faced within the existing Government framework.

For example, Attorney General Herbert Brownell had found that of the Justice Department's 1,100 lawyers, only 15 to 20 were capable of replacement by appointment, with the remainder protected under the functional equivalent of civil service.

Similarly, Oveta Culp Hobby, head of the Federal Security Agency, had found that only five or six of the 37,500 employees under her direction could be replaced.

The growing frustration had led some Republicans in Congress to consider changes to civil service to make it less rigid and less concerned with arbitrary classification, only incidentally connected with concern over loyalty and security.

Secretary of the Treasury George Humphrey and Secretary of Interior Douglas McKay had approached their employees on the basis of assumption of cooperation, addressing them accordingly. The same was true of Mrs. Hobby.

But in contrast was Secretary of Commerce Sinclair Weeks, who threatened to remove the "dead wood and poison oak", by eliminating, if necessary, numerous positions, though doing so would also eliminate potentially important services to business.

There was also the problem of persuading qualified persons to replace those terminated, as middle-level bureaucrats, seeing existing Government employees being tossed to the lions in Congress, would be reluctant to accept positions in the new Administration.

The Congressional Quarterly examines the several proposals before the new Congress to provide new benefits to veterans. A survey by the Quarterly had determined that veterans in service since the beginning of the Korean War were presently entitled to many benefits similar to those received by veterans of World War II. The Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1952 had set up a new "G.I. Bill of Rights", under which home, farm and business loans were available at low interest rates, along with education and self-employment allowances.

The new law contained some changes aimed at preventing abuses practiced under the old law, as in education, where the beneficiary now received his allowance directly from the Government rather than through the educational institution, which had caused fly-by-night schools to crop up and overcharge the Government for courses of questionable merit and seldom attended. It was estimated that 715,000 veterans were expected to enroll in schools during the coming fiscal year, of whom 475,000 were Korean War veterans. Benefits were included similar to those for disabled veterans of World War II, providing for job, farm and school training, and up to $1,600 for automobiles for veterans who had lost their hands, feet or sight in the line of duty. Veterans of all wars were entitled to various degrees of hospital care under a priority system, which it provides. Compensation was payable to veterans with service-connected disabilities at wartime and peacetime rates, depending on the degree of the disability, plus other statutory awards. The new Act had increased compensation limitations for veterans receiving pensions and for the most severely disabled.

In 1951, Congress had passed, over the President's veto, an increase to $129 per month in aid and attendance payments to veterans of World Wars I and II, and the Korean War, who were totally disabled as a result of non-service-connected injury.

The new Act also provided unemployment benefits up to $26 per week for 26 weeks for veterans of Korea, with rates of compensation depending on payments prevailing in each veteran's home state.

A letter writer from Monroe finds that the story appearing on February 26, "Lady Pirate Was a Lulu", had been a good example of "journalistic endeavor devoid of sense and designed primarily as an appeal to the erotic." He finds that to have been the aim of the story's nonsensical plot, involving a female pirate planning to attack a Spanish "'gallion'", and indicates that half the story had been devoted to a recitation of deeds of immorality. "This story appearing in a family newspaper brings the garbage can into the living room." He demands an explanation for the editorial policy which permitted "filth and nonsense hiding under the form of reporting to be incorporated" in the newspaper.

A letter writer addresses an open letter to State Insurance Commissioner Waldo Cheek, in reply to the latter's circular which the writer had recently received regarding the pending bill in the Assembly to institute a "security" automobile liability insurance system, finding in it a glaring defect, that a driver would have 60 days to prove financial responsibility following an accident. He suggests that no one was fearful of the responsible driver, as that driver would carry insurance, but the irresponsible driver would invite a lawsuit "and be damned". Under the Massachusetts law, requiring compulsory proof of financial responsibility prior to obtaining a driver's license, that driver would not be on the road legally. He hopes that Mr. Cheek and the sponsors of the State Senate bill would reconsider and offer a substitute which would be more along the lines of the Massachusetts plan.

A letter writer from Cheraw, S.C., favors lowering the age at which Social Security benefits would vest, either to 55 or 60, rather than 65. He indicates that a man or woman over 40 and unemployed could hardly obtain a job, as management did not want to hire people that old, able to get ample help from younger persons. In addition, machinery was supplanting workers everywhere. He adds that his employer, the Cheraw Cotton Mill, still hired people over 40 and even those over 65. He urges that other employers do likewise.

A letter writer praises the Golden Years Club, of which there were three in Charlotte, finding it a boon to many older persons who desired a pleasant and profitable way to spend leisure time. She indicates that the members shared their mutual woes and mutual burdens, seeking to make their last years "the golden years", for themselves and others who might feel forgotten or neglected.

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.