The Charlotte News

Friday, March 6, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Moscow, thousands of Soviet citizens had filed past the bier of Prime Minister Joseph Stalin this date in his last tribute, following his death the previous night, four days after suffering a stroke the prior Sunday. Lines waiting to view his body extended for miles into the suburbs from the Hall of Columns, where it lay in state. He had led the 200 million people of the Soviet Union for 29 years and had called the shots for Communists worldwide.

A commission headed by Nikita Khrushchev, who would become Secretary of the Communist Party the following September and then Premier in 1958, was working on funeral plans. No date had yet been announced for final services or the site of burial.

There was still no hint as to Stalin's successor, but initial statements indicated that there were no changes of policies in prospect.

Moscow had been cold, windy and unpleasant this date, but life had gone on about as usual, with hundreds filing into churches to place candles before religious icons in tribute to Stalin. Some had tears and some were grim, and many crossed themselves repeatedly.

A rare Extra edition of the newspaper reports that Moscow Radio had announced this night that Georgi Malenkov, not friendly with the West and never having traveled outside the Soviet Union, had been appointed Prime Minister, succeeding Stalin, and would remain as Secretary of the Communist Party, a position he had already held for several years, whereas Stalin had been Secretary-General of the party. Marshal Klementi Voroshilov had been appointed chairman of the Soviet Presidium in place of Nikolai Shevernik, equivalent to the President. L. P. Beria, V. M. Molotov, and Nikolai Bulganin, according to the broadcast, had been appointed deputy chairmen of the Council of Ministers, in addition to each serving as head of specific ministries. Foreign Minister Andrei Vishinsky had been named permanent U.N. representative and V. M. Molotov was named Foreign Minister, a position he had held for years previously.

At the U.N., a minute of silence was called by Joao Carloz Muniz of Brazil as chairman of the General Assembly's political committee, in tribute to Prime Minister Stalin, and Mr. Vishinsky, dressed in black, thanked the political committee for the observance. The latter would board a ship this date and return to Moscow. He praised Stalin and said Russia would continue his policies of "strengthening peace". Mr. Vishinsky, whose voice broke halfway through the statement, had been Stalin's chief prosecutor in the Soviet purge trials of 1936-37. All present, including U.S. deputy representative James Wadsworth and the Israeli and South Korean representatives, joined in the tribute. U.N. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., was absent, believed to be in Washington for the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Oksana Kasenkina, a Russian schoolteacher who in 1948 had leaped from a third-story window of the Russian consulate in New York to avoid return to Russia, stated her belief that Stalin's death would precipitate revolution, that the Russian people would overthrow the Communist Government, tired of 35 years of bloodshed. She stated that she was happy for her people in Russia and had never been so happy in her life, that the Russian people had feared Stalin and hated him. She predicted that V. M. Molotov would be Stalin's successor. She said that she was planning to enter a Catholic convent soon, loved America very much, but still feared Soviet agents, and was tired of always being alone.

The Senate Armed Services Committee the previous day had heard from General James Van Fleet, recently retired commander of the U.S. Eighth Army in Korea, that there had been shortages in some items of ammunition since he had taken command 22 months earlier and that those shortages had sometimes seriously hampered operations. But the day before, he had told the House Armed Services Committee that there were no serious shortages of ammunition in Korea, and the previous May 8, at Army headquarters, had announced that ammunition was plentiful, though rationed to save money and maintain an ammunition reserve, which he described as a normal military precaution. In response to the General's testimony, Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia wrote Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson, demanding prompt punishment for "criminal inefficiency". General Van Fleet was called before the Armed Services Committee again this date and later before the Senate Appropriations Committee, both meeting in closed session, to provide more detail on the issue. Chief of staff of the Army, General J. Lawton Collins, had sought more funding the previous May from Congress because, he had said at the time, ammunition was being rationed in Korea and that if the war there should continue or if forces in Europe were attacked, there would be no reserves of ammunition and front line troops would have to limit their use of it.

Senator Joseph McCarthy said this date that the Senate Investigations subcommittee which he chaired was looking into a "suicide note" apparently written by a Voice of America employee, Raymond Kaplan. An unnamed Congressional source had made public the note, which purported to say that Mr. Kaplan had done no wrong in his electrical engineering work for the Voice, but feared that he would be "harried and harassed" for everything that he did in the job and that he was a "patsy for any mistakes made". The letter was addressed to his wife and son. Another former engineer for the Voice had told the subcommittee that the sites for two Voice transmitters had been so poorly located as to amount to sabotage, and Mr. Kaplan had apparently been responsible for the choice of sites, saying in the note that he had done what he thought was best. Mr. Kaplan, 42, had been killed by a truck in Cambridge, Mass., on Wednesday night, and witnesses said that he had deliberately swerved into the truck's path. It was determined at an inquest that his death was by suicide. One of the transmitters in question had been built in the State of Washington in an area, according to Senator McCarthy, where its signals would have been weakened by atmospheric conditions. The State Department had halted work on the transmitter. The other transmitter was located near Wilmington, N.C. Mr. Kaplan had served as a liaison between those conducting the construction and MIT, which was advising the Voice under a half-million dollar contract. MIT had recommended the Washington location but had reportedly changed its mind recently and was preparing to recommend that the location be changed.

The President this date nominated career diplomat John Allison as U.S. Ambassador to Japan, to succeed Robert Murphy, who had been in the role since the prior April. Mr. Murphy was nominated to be Assistant Secretary of State for U.N. affairs. Mr. Allison had been serving as Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern affairs and had served as deputy to John Foster Dulles when the latter, acting as a special emissary for the Truman Administration, had supervised the negotiation of the Japanese peace treaty.

A 15-member advisory committee, which had been named by Labor Secretary Martin Durkin at the suggestion of the President, to try to effect agreement between labor and management on revision of the Taft-Hartley Act, had broken up this date in disagreement, after industry members had balked at voting on various proposals to amend the law. The group had five members each from industry, labor and the public.

In Raleigh, a group of reporters refused to leave a session of Senate Judiciary Committee 2 this date, after State Senator H. Pou Bailey of Wake County, the chairman, call for a secret session to consider the proposed motor vehicle inspection bill. The Committee eventually adjourned without action. Marjorie Hunter of the Winston-Salem Journal-Sentinel had inquired whether the full Committee had been consulted on Mr. Bailey's proposed exclusion of the press, to which he had responded that it was his own decision. Ed Kirk of Raleigh radio station WPTF had inquired why the press were being excluded, to which Mr. Bailey responded that there had been a great deal of controversy surrounding the bill and he did not wish members of the Committee to feel that they were being written about in their hometown newspapers before they had a chance to speak to their constituents. Ralph Howland of the Charlotte Observer asked Mr. Bailey whether he could speak for the full Committee, to which he responded that he was speaking for it at that point. A member then moved for adjournment, and the motion carried. Mr. Bailey said afterward that he was generally opposed to closed sessions and it was the first time he had ever called one, that it had been for the sole purpose of holding a vote on the bill. The Committee appeared to be closely divided on the issue of the inspections law.

Also in Raleigh, legislation to realign the state's judicial districts to provide for 32 regular Superior Court judges had been introduced in both houses of the General Assembly this date, sponsored in the Senate by State Senators Calvin Graves of Forsyth County, future Superior Court Judge Hamilton Hobgood of Franklin County, and Edwin Pate of Scotland County, and by four State representatives in the House. The bill would establish Mecklenburg County as a separate judicial and solicitorial district and provide the County a separate Solicitor and its second Superior Court judge. Gaston County, currently combined with Mecklenburg in the same judicial district, would be assigned to another district. The current Solicitor, Basil Whitener of Gastonia, would be assigned to that latter district under the bill, and Mecklenburg would have to elect a new Solicitor. Other districts which would receive two judges would be Guilford County and the district comprising Buncombe, Madison, Mitchell and Yancey Counties. The story provides a list of the new numeration of judicial districts under the bill.

In another area of legislation, leaders in public health and the medical profession cited a Tennessee scandal as a warning to the House Health Committee against proposed legislation to license naturopaths.

In Binghamton, N.Y., as also imparted specially in the Extra edition, deer were so plentiful at the Broome County airport that the County had decided to buy a station wagon to be used, in conjunction with other methods, to chase them from the runways.

On the editorial page, "Death of a Dictator" comments on the death of Joseph Stalin, who had, himself, sent many victims to their deaths. His death, while not violent, had shocked his empire by its suddenness and surprised the free world. What lay ahead depended in large part on what transpired in the Kremlin. A violent struggle for succession would be good news for the free world, as it would, at least temporarily, prevent Russia from furthering its worldwide designs of extending Communism.

It was likely that several men would share in power for a time to prevent the regime from crumbling during the transition, after which would emerge a leader, perhaps after a bloody purge.

It finds that because Stalin had been deified, new leaders would have a significant problem domestically in continuing to have the factories producing and other aspects of the economy maintained at the same pace as had been the case to please Stalin. After becoming settled, a new regime might become more dangerous than had been that of Stalin. Only V. M. Molotov, of the three primary contenders for leadership, was known to the West, whereas Georgi Malenkov and L. P. Beria were not. The danger lay in whether the latter two were capable of misjudging the West by being less shrewd and patient than had been Stalin.

"It's Campbell's Move Now", in follow-up to a piece earlier in the week, indicates that a statement by the chairman of the County School Board regarding the dismissal of L. D. Campbell, supervisor of bus routes, had cleared the air somewhat, and that the next move was up to Mr. Campbell. The Board said that it had acted "after a long series of incidents" involving operation of the bus garage, over which Mr. Campbell had supervisory authority until two years earlier, and subsequently of the school bus routes. The statement said that Mr. Campbell was either unwilling or unable to carry out Board policy and that the Board had not made a public explanation of its action out of consideration for Mr. Campbell, who was seeking new employment. If Mr. Campbell sought a bill of particulars, the Board would provide it at a meeting the following Tuesday, at which any other interested party could also be present.

Mr. Campbell was reported to believe that he had been dealt with harshly and arbitrarily, and some of his friends had demanded to know why he had been fired. The piece indicates that it was now up to Mr. Campbell to demand a bill of particulars and respond to same.

"An Apology Is in Order" indicates that Emily Bellows, a member of the City School Board, had demanded recently the resignations of Frank Roberts and Dr. Herbert Spaugh from the Board for inadequate attendance at meetings. She had attended 18 of the 23 meetings, while Mr. Roberts had attended 16 and Dr. Spaugh, 12, during the previous year.

It indicates that it would be better to have all members of the Board present at every meeting but it was not always practicable. Mr. Roberts had to travel part of the time and could not always be in town for the meetings, and Dr. Spaugh had other duties in the community which prevented him from attending special meetings, though he reserved certain nights for regularly scheduled meetings. During the previous year, with construction of schools ongoing, there had been several special meetings called to handle routine details of the building program, at which a legal quorum was sufficient.

With the record called to her attention, it hopes that Mrs. Bellows would apologize for her remarks.

"A Straight Jacket for Congress" indicates that Senator Everett Dirksen of Illinois and Representative Chauncey Reed of Illinois, both Republicans, had introduced resolutions seeking a Constitutional amendment for the purpose of limiting the ability to tax, capping the income tax rate at 25 percent unless three-fourths of both houses of Congress voted for a higher rate, which, in any event, could be no more than 15 percentage points above the lowest rate.

It finds it a "cruel mockery of equal sacrifice" and "a bonanza for the wealthy man", for in time of war emergency, the wealthy might be taxed, for instance, at 50 percent while the laborer would then have to be taxed at 35 percent, or under any other combination separated by only 15 percentage points. The amendment had little chance of passing Congress, much less being ratified by the required three-fourths of the states. It cautions, however, that the people should always be on the alert for such schemes by the few to penalize the many, of which the proposal by Senator Dirksen and Representative Reed was one. The fact that it had been endorsed recently by the house of delegates of the American Bar Association showed that anything was possible during those times.

By the way, while we usually ignore misprints and apparent misspellings in the newspaper, opting simply to correct them, it is not possible when one appears in a heading and so to avoid misleading the orthographically challenged, we make note that the term is properly spelled "strait-jacket", as in narrowing one's confines, rather than straightening them, even if some sources list "straight-jacket" as an alternative spelling, likely marginally accepted by the fact of consistent misspelling, as the latter rendering makes little sense. The O.E.D., for good reason, does not credit it as an acceptable alternative, as the term derives from "strait-waistcoat", appearing first in the mid-18th Century.

A piece from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, titled "New Goings-On at Spoon River" quotes from the beginning of the Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, which had originally appeared in the St. Louis Mirror. It had come to mind with the news that the Atomic Energy Commission would build the first plant designed solely for processing and assembling atomic explosives, on the shores of the Spoon River, 130 miles north of St. Louis. It hopes that the change produced by the plant to the flat farmland would not reach the hill where "Ella, Kate, Magid, Lizzie and Edith, the tender heart, the simple soul, the loud, the proud, the happy one," were sleeping under their tombstones. It also hopes that it would not cause people to forget the words of Serepta Mason:

Ye living ones, ye are fools indeed
Who do not know the ways of the wind
And the unseen forces
That govern the processes of life.

Drew Pearson indicates that the Senate Interior Committee had called a special secret session early in the week to consider the question of disciplining or recording the indictment of Bernard Tassler, managing editor of the American Federation of Labor magazine, The American Federationist, for his criticism of Senators advocating legislation returning tidelands oil rights to the states. The unusual procedure had been conducted behind closed doors after a special request had been made to have a quorum present for important action. Mr. Tassler was asked to be present, but had said that while he would be glad to be present at a public proceeding, he would not participate in a star-chamber session. The source of the controversy had been an advertisement in the Washington News captioned: "The 300-billion dollar offshore oil giveaway", signed by the "Citizens Committee Against The Offshore Oil Grab", of which Mr. Tassler was the leader. Senator Price Daniel of Texas had led the effort to discipline him after the Senator had received heavy campaign contributions from Texas oilmen and had given the tidelands oil issue primacy in his campaign. The ad had questioned whether the rush to pass the tidelands oil legislation was a political payoff for lavish campaign contributions the previous fall. Senator Daniel had, nevertheless, remained quiet during the secret session, allowing the more seasoned Senator Guy Cordon of Oregon to carry the ball. He quotes further from the ad. Only seven Senators arrived for the session, not enough for a quorum, and so the committee went into public session with the matter of disciplining Mr. Tassler left hanging. Wiser Senators were hoping that Senators Cordon and Daniel would cool off.

He provides a list of oil contributions which had been made outside Texas, from $53,000 contributed during the 1952 campaign by oilman H. R. Cullen, with $5,000 of it having gone to President Eisenhower, $5,000 to Senator Joseph McCarthy, $3,500 to Senator William Jenner, plus a series of $1,000 contributions to several Senators and candidates, with Senator Daniel receiving $5,000. All of those Senators had voted for tidelands oil, with the exception of George Malone of Nevada, Zales Ecton of Montana and Arthur Watkins of Utah, the latter of whom now appeared to be for the bill.

Senator Walter George of Georgia was one of the most shocked regarding the suicide of Senator Robert La Follette, after Senator George had fought many legislative battles against him prior to his defeat for re-election in 1946 by Senator McCarthy. Senator George had delivered probably the most glowing tribute to Senator La Follette on the Senate floor, and afterward, Senator Paul Douglas of Illinois, who had fought with Senator George on occasion, congratulated him. Senator George had responded that he had loved Senator La Follette.

The Congressional Quarterly indicates that during 1952, the Veterans Administration had spent $125,189,000 in North Carolina in direct payments and other services to veterans and their dependents. Of that amount, $43,795,000 had been paid in compensation and pensions, and adjustment benefits under the "G.I. Bill" accounted for another $49,821,000, while $9,353,000 was for World War II National Service Life Insurance and $169,000 was awarded pursuant to the Servicemen's Indemnity Act for veterans of the Korean War. About 350,000 World War II veterans lived in North Carolina of the 15.4 million nationwide. About 57,000 of the other 3.5 million total pre-Korean war veterans, who served prior to World War II, lived in North Carolina.

The VA had disbursed a total of 5.9 billion dollars for the nation's 19.8 million war veterans, and of that total, 4.8 billion was provided by Congressional appropriation, with the other 1.1 billion coming from trust and working funds. More than 2.1 billion dollars had been paid to veterans, their dependents and survivors for pensions and compensation, 41.4 million for adjustment benefits, 427 million for World War II insurance and 6.6 million for Korean war indemnity payments.

The piece cites several other statistics and indicates that Representative Olin Teague of Texas had been seeking to add 10 million dollars to Veterans Administration funds, but the effort had been defeated on February 19 in the House by a vote of 201 to 180. That additional money would have been used by the VA for administrative purposes and for medical, hospital and domiciliary services for veterans. In recent weeks, many members of Congress had demanded improvement in medical services to veterans and their dependents through the VA. At the same time, there was an even louder cry in Congress for Government economy. The vote on the Teague measure had been along party lines, with Democrats favoring it 161 to 24, while Republicans had opposed it 177 to 18. Newly elected Republican Congressman for Mecklenburg County's Congressional district, Charles Jonas, had voted against it.

Marquis Childs discusses the approach to the Owen Lattimore case by Attorney General Herbert Brownell, who had turned the matter over to a new prosecutor but who would keep the matter under his own scrutiny, as the new Administration was aware that the case could politically backfire. Senator Pat McCarran had begun to press the Justice Department in July, 1952 to prosecute Professor Lattimore for perjury, but then-Attorney General James McGranery had told inquirers privately that he did not intend to take the matter before a grand jury as he doubted the accusation, based on the Professor's denial before the Senate Internal Security Committee that he had been a sympathizer or promoter of Communism or Communist interests or on the other basis that his statements at a half-dozen points failed to coincide with indictments occurring before or during World War II regarding his dealings with the Institute of Pacific Relations, on which he had been questioned for 12 days by the Committee. Senator McCarran had not accused him of lying on the basis of not having been a Communist or sympathizer or his denial that he was the architect of U.S. policy in Asia, but those had been the original charges made by Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Following the election the prior November, Mr. McGranery had taken the case before a grand jury and an indictment was returned on December 16, 1952. The indictment had been challenged by Mr. Lattimore's attorney and a lengthy brief prepared by former Senator Joseph O'Mahoney, who had been defeated in the fall election after 20 years in the Senate. The defense had also consulted with Abe Fortas, future Supreme Court Court Justice, who had been Mr. Lattimore's counsel from the start of his troubles and had agreed to associate himself with the defense. The Government had sought a delay in the prosecution so that it could study the O'Mahoney brief. Regardless of how the District Court eventually ruled on the matter, it would likely be appealed, probably all the way to the Supreme Court. Attorney General Brownell might also agree at some point to dismiss the indictment. If not and the indictment were eventually upheld in the courts, it would likely be at least a year before Mr. Lattimore would face trial. The challenge to the indictment was primarily based on the idea that he was being prosecuted for expressions of opinions rather than any overt act. Many people believed that to be the case.

Millions of Americans had sincerely believed in 1938 and 1939 that the country should stay out of the war in Europe, and some few believed that it should side with the Nazis. That latter group, however, would have stated, following Hitler's declaration of war, that they had not supported the Nazis against their own country. The Lattimore brief contained a quote from Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, in which he had said that it was futile to try "to fathom modern political meditations of an accused", that the Constitution was intended to end such prosecutions as occurred in ancient England, where it was treasonable to imagine the death of the King. He stated that only in the darkest periods of human history had any Western government concerned itself with a person's belief, "however eccentric or mischievous, when it has not matured into overt action". He concluded that if such a practice survived, it was only in Communist countries. Mr. Childs concludes that every American should consider those points earnestly.

Robert C. Ruark, writing from Isiolo in northern Kenya, indicates that so much had been written about the Mau Mau trouble that he did not propose to write any more about it and instead wishes to inform about some Africans he knew. He tells of his headman, Juma, who was a lovable rogue who would tell a fib only when it was for the hearer's own good and was a superb scrounger. He disapproved of drink, though appeared to have bloodshot eyes on occasion after gathering with the other safari boys in Nairobi. He ran the safari.

Another member of the family while on safari was Aly, the cook, who was a sweet old man. Adam was the gunbearer who was afraid of no one. Abdullah and Joseph were Juma's assistants and performed their job well, with good humor. Katunga was the mad skinner and an herbal pharmacist, the best witch doctor known to Mr. Ruark. Chege drove the lorry, was a superb mechanic and also a gentleman. He was the only Kikuyu in the group but the Swahili and Kamba tribal members thought him okay.

Mr. Ruark indicates that there was not a man among them whom he would not trust with his life, wife, gun or money, and wishes it to be known that not everyone in Kenya was a Mau Mau.

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