The Charlotte News

Saturday, April 11, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports, via Stan Carter, that U.S. Sabre jets had destroyed three enemy MIG-15s and damaged three others in an air battle this date over North Korea.

In ground action, two Chinese Communist companies of about 350 men had driven South Korean infantrymen off "Texas Hill" on the central front, a peak which had changed hands nine times in the previous week. The South Korean defenders had made two counterattacks against the peak after dawn but were repulsed both times by Chinese, utilizing burp guns, hand grenades, mortar and artillery fire. It was the only major action along the front this date.

U.N. and Communist representatives signed an agreement in Korea this date to release sick and wounded prisoners of war from each side, with 600 U.N. prisoners, of whom 120 were Americans, set for release by the Communists, and 5,800 to be released by the allies. The first prisoners were probably going to be released by the following Wednesday. It was hoped that the agreement would lay the foundation for further agreement on the remaining issue blocking an armistice, the question of voluntary repatriation of prisoners of war. The Communist spokesman at the signing ceremony urged resumption of the armistice negotiations, which had been suspended the previous October 8 when U.N. representatives walked out in frustration over the impasse regarding the repatriation issue. U.N. supreme commander, General Mark Clark, had already indicated that after the exchange of sick and wounded prisoners was complete, the truce talks could resume.

Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia predicted this date that the management set-up in the armed services would be overhauled as a result of a Senate investigation of the prior ammunition shortages in Korea, stating that the inquiry had revealed an unbelievable lack of good business management. He believed that businessmen ought be placed in charge of handling the military contracts and delivery of goods.

The President invited the 48 Governors to a White House conference on May 4 and 5, to provide them a confidential picture of the present state of the world and the role of the U.S. in it. The conference would consider current developments in foreign affairs, defense, national security, and an analysis of the fiscal policies as they related to all of those subjects.

Oveta Culp Hobby took the oath of office to become the first Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare this date, following approval by Congress of the President's proposed reorganization to convert the Federal Security Agency, created in 1939, into the Cabinet-level Department. Ms. Hobby had been appointed by the President originally as FSA director. She became the first female member of the Cabinet since Frances Perkins had served as Secretary of Labor under FDR. President Truman had twice proposed that the FSA be converted into an executive department, but each time the Congress had vetoed the proposal, based primarily on the fact that Oscar Ewing, the FSA director, had been a vigorous proponent of national health insurance.

At Yucca Flat, Nevada, another atomic test was conducted this date, as observed from Las Vegas, with the device having been detonated from atop a 100-foot tower. The Atomic Energy Commission stated that the desired effects had been obtained, though supplying no further details. It was the fifth in the spring test series, and as viewed from Las Vegas, did not appear as forceful as some of the previous tests. It had been determined that radiation from the second test of March 24 had contaminated a three-mile stretch of Yucca Flat, causing preparations originally planned for this date to have to be postponed, as construction and scientific crews were unable to reach the area to work. Five volunteers had offered to substitute for the previously utilized department store dummies in future tests, some of the volunteers saying that they were already ill and others stating that they were willing to be human guinea pigs out of patriotic motives. The AEC, however, said that they would not subject humans to atomic tests—unless you were downwind from Yucca Flat.

A spring snowstorm hit the Rockies in Colorado, extending into Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico, depositing up to ten inches of snow and disrupting ground and air travel. The lowest temperature was 11 degrees, registered at Leadville and Eagle, Colo., in the Rockies, and Denver had a low of 22. The cold was believed to have damaged Colorado's apricot crop.

In Stillwater, Minn., a prison riot had erupted following five days of unrest at the Stillwater Prison, in protest over the cessation of further negotiations regarding a series of prisoner grievances, which had resulted first in a sitdown strike regarding service of liver patties for lunch. Prison guards had heard through the grapevine that one long-term convict was armed with a pistol. Prison officials indicated that damage to the cell blocks was probably minor, compared to the millions of dollars in damage which could have been caused had the convicts been able to seize the prison shops. The prison had been built 41 years earlier, located 20 miles northeast of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Each of two cell blocks presently housed 500 convicts, 100 below capacity. A penal reform program begun three years earlier under former Governor Luther Youngdahl, presently a Federal Judge in Washington, was underway at the prison and was one of the top issues in the current session of the State Legislature.

In Raleigh, Dr. Thomas Nelson, pioneer in the development of the N.C. State School of Textiles, died at his home early this date, at age 80. He had been in failing health for some time. A native of England, he had headed the School of Textiles from its inception in 1924 until his retirement as dean in 1943, and had retired from the faculty in 1949, after 48 years of service on the staff.

In Salisbury, N.C., preparations were underway for the bicentennial observance of Rowan County, which would include a visit by President Eisenhower the following Thursday afternoon, with an address at Catawba College that evening. The festivities were set to begin the following night, with a colorful pageant portraying the county's history, to be presented in the local high school stadium. Will Juan Pardo be represented?

In New York, a man drove to traffic court the previous day to pay a $72 fine, leaving a note on the windshield of his parked car indicating his purpose, and adding, "Had enough, please do not tag." But when he returned to his car, while the note was still present, there was added a ticket for parking in a restricted area.

On the editorial page, "O'Herron's Move Merits Local Support" praises the members of the Mecklenburg State House delegation for submitting to a conference committee the dispute over Senator Fred McIntyre's amendment to the "home rule" bill. The delegation had agreed to leave Mecklenburg in the bill, which authorized county commissions to fix salaries of county officials. But Senator McIntyre had exempted Mecklenburg in the Senate version of the bill, and when it went back to the House for concurrence, the Mecklenburg delegation stood firm, referring the bill to a conference committee for reconciliation of the two versions.

It suggests that logic was on the side of home rule, to allow county commissioners to fix the budget for all of the departments of the county governments, and thus fix the salaries of county officials. Legislators served only three months every two years and were otherwise out of touch with local government, thus having no way of knowing whether a particular employee of the county deserved a raise in pay. The piece thus hopes that the conference committee would include Mecklenburg in the home rule bill.

We just wish the General Assembly would finish up business and go home, as we are getting tired of dealing with this arcana every day.

"Short-Sighted Political Policy" indicates that two years earlier, a bill to redistrict the State House and Senate in accordance with the 1950 census had gone nowhere in the General Assembly, one of the main arguments against it having been that the official census figures were not yet available when the 1951 Legislature was in session. But during the current week, two bills to redistrict the houses had been killed in the Assembly, based on the argument that the State Constitution required redistricting only in the first session of the Legislature after the decennial census.

It finds the argument circular and insincere. The actual reason for reluctance to redistrict was so that the small, rural counties could maintain their tight control over the Assembly, without regard to the fact that the more populous counties of the state were being called upon to pay for the bulk of State services while being denied fair representation based on population. It suggests that a rift between the large and small counties could only create bitterness within the state, where progress had been achieved only when all parts of the state were moving along together.

"TV Ownership No Mark of Distinction" tells of a school board in Roanoke, Va., having dropped 117 children from its free-lunch program because they had come from homes with television sets. The Richmond welfare department considered ownership of television sets along with other types of property in determining whether a family received relief or whether a child received free lunches at school.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch had suggested that mere ownership of a television set was not a wise criterion for determining entitlement to welfare benefits, as a used, older set, could be obtained for about the price of a table model radio, or even less. Thus a child from a home with a television set might be deprived of free lunches, whereas one who came from a home with even greater material comforts could obtain the benefits. The piece indicates that it had much the same reaction when the Mecklenburg County Welfare Department adopted a similar rule to that of Roanoke, and suggests that the Richmond policy of considering other types of personal possessions was the better approach.

"A Deserving Project Marks a Birthday" discusses the 13th anniversary of the Distributive Education program in Charlotte, to provide practical job training at five high schools in the city and county for 170 juniors and seniors, who attended school in the morning to learn business, ethics, salesmanship and the like, and in the afternoons received their practical training on the job at local businesses. They were assigned to three different types of work each year, and by the end of the two-year course were in a much better position to choose work in which they would be successful and happy. Over 1,600 people had received the training through the previous year, most of whom had not been able to go to college. They were able, thanks to the training, to obtain better positions after graduation from high school than they might have otherwise, and were able to do their jobs better for their employers. The program also benefited employers by providing them with better personnel, as the instructors in the program taught existing employees courses relating to their jobs.

The program was sponsored by the Merchants' Association and by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, and it compliments the program for a job well done.

A piece from the Asheville Citizen, titled "The Coffee Break", indicates that Secretary of the Navy Robert Anderson had ordered that all civilian personnel would no longer be entitled to take coffee breaks. The effort was to prevent the break from turning into a coffee hour.

But it indicates that the president of the National Office Management Association had said recently that business had learned that the brief respite from work was good for productivity and morale.

It relates that in earlier times, a flock of Abyssinian sheep had fed on coffee berries and the shepherds had then noticed that the sheep were restless at night, prompting the shepherds to taste the berries, and, liking them, made a brew from them, thus providing the origin of the beverage.

It concludes that if Federal workers were compelled to take coffee in their off-hours, it followed that they would come to work sleepless as sheep, and so it was better to provide them a coffee break.

The above-linked Burns and Allen episode of March 19, 1953, incidentally, contains an historical mistake. Be the first on your block to find it and tell all of your neighbors via telephone, so that they can also pass it on. History is important. Hint: Cuban Missile Crisis and Italy in World War II.

Speaking of which, if you wish to be among the cognoscenti, those endowed with the linings of the cloud, when it comes to politics and every other subject, you should spend your coffee breaks, nay, your whole day, listening to these people, as they know everything before it even happens; they know what you are thinking before you think it.

Drew Pearson indicates that during the Russian peace initiative thus far, Secretary of State Dulles had almost completely ignored the advice of former Ambassador to Russia and former chief planner at the State Department, George Kennan, despite his having spent a lifetime studying Russia and having made quite accurate predictions on Soviet developments. He had predicted, for instance, that the Chinese Communists would intervene in Korea when General MacArthur sent troops to the Yalu River, and that the Russians would develop the atomic bomb more quickly than the experts had predicted. He had also predicted that the Russian peace initiative would follow Stalin's death. But Mr. Dulles had become upset with Mr. Kennan when the latter cautioned against active psychological warfare encouraging satellite peoples to revolt, one of the chief campaign themes of both General Eisenhower and Mr. Dulles. Mr. Kennan had counseled that it was foolish to encourage revolution in the satellite states before the U.S. was ready to help them, because if such revolutions were crushed, as they almost surely would be without U.S. support, they could not rise again for 50 years. Mr. Dulles had become especially upset when Mr. Kennan made a speech against such psychological warfare, released to the press prior to a speech on the same subject by Mr. Dulles. After that point, the ongoing consideration of appointment of Mr. Kennan to become Ambassador to Egypt was ended.

The Senate was conducting two duplicate investigations of the Government's overseas information program, one chaired by Senator McCarthy and the other by Senator Bourke Hickenlooper. The investigation by Senator Hickenlooper's committee had been first and so was first to report, disturbing Senator McCarthy when his chief counsel, Roy Cohn, read excerpts from the report to Senator McCarthy over the phone, prompting Senator McCarthy to ask whether it would take the publicity edge away from their own investigation. Mr. Cohn had replied that the Senator should not worry because Senator Hickenlooper was running a "high-class investigation."

During the Easter recess of Congress, five members had claimed that they were going to their home districts on "official business", entitling them to free rides on military aircraft, and a few others had taken free, round-the-world Easter tours. Those Congressmen in the former category included William Bray of Indiana, William Mailliard of California, and Edward Hebert and Overton Brooks of Louisiana. He provides details of their claims of "official business" at home.

He indicates that the most legitimate Easter junket had been by Congressmen Dan Reed of New York and Harold Cooley of North Carolina, who had caught a ride to Europe with General Al Gruenther to attend the Interparliamentary Union Conference in Monaco. But members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee had spent the recess touring the world, of which he provides some detail.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop indicate that it was considered likely by both West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and American officials, meeting in Washington, that the Russian peace offensive would shortly turn its attention to Germany. Some advisers were urging the President and Secretary of State Dulles to seize the initiative and propose a conference on a German peace treaty, based on free elections and a united Germany. The American officials had probably discussed that course with Chancellor Adenauer, but the prospect of such a proposal remained in doubt as some in the State Department were apprehensive about renewing negotiations with the Russians regarding Germany, while others believed that it was a present opportunity not to be missed.

The Alsops venture that even a seemingly serious offer by the Soviets to negotiate a reasonable German peace treaty might cause the Western alliance problems, bringing the already faltering European army project to a halt, and possibly persuading Germans that only the Americans stood in the way of a united Germany. In the event of a united Germany, the Soviets would demand the withdrawal of all occupation troops as a condition of agreement, leaving the West without the American foothold in West Germany and without assurance that a sovereign Germany would not ultimately ally with the Soviets.

Some of the policymakers, however, believed that such fears were irrational, that it would be easy enough to discern whether the Soviets were merely planning a wrecking operation with their peace moves. They believed that if the Soviets were ready to withdraw from East Germany, then the West was well on its way to winning the cold war.

There could be no German peace treaty without an Austrian peace treaty, in which case the Russians would be obliged to withdraw all of their troops back to the Soviet borders. Another test of Soviet sincerity would be whether they could retake from their Polish satellite the territory taken from Germany by Poland after the war, as Soviet troops were being withdrawn from Poland. Probably the hardest test would be to bring about free all-German elections. Many officials believed that the Soviets would agree in principle to free elections, but given the fact that Communism would almost surely be repudiated in economically depressed East Germany, it was questionable whether the Soviets really would desire free elections in the Soviet-controlled zone. The Soviets would also lose their German uranium mines and their forward Soviet bases in Europe. In addition, the prospect of a pro-Western Germany troubled the Kremlin as much as the fear of a pro-Soviet Germany troubled the West. Those were some of the reasons why advisers to the President were advocating a bold, aggressive policy.

The Alsops conclude that whatever the decision was, the new Administration faced a challenging time ahead. However bad had been the Korean War, it had simplified matters for the Truman Administration during the previous three years, for as long as it continued, direct East-West conferences were ruled out. Korea provided an excuse to strengthen the West's defenses, and it was quite probable that the Soviet peace strategy was aimed at removing that rationale.

They conclude with a remark made by Mayor Ernst Reuter of West Berlin to one of the Alsops sometime earlier: "No one with a sense of history can believe that Germany will stay divided for very much longer." They conclude that in national policy, it was best to be on the side of history.

Germany, of course, would remain divided between East and West for another 36 years, with varying levels of tension in the interim at the point of the crossed swords in Berlin.

Marquis Childs indicates that strong Presidents, such as Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and both of the Roosevelts, had imposed their policy on an often reluctant Congress, while at other times, the lead had come from Congress with the President content to follow. In periods of national crisis, the lines of authority sometimes became blurred and the balance of power underwent a radical shift. Both Presidents Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt were called dictators or worse, with FDR being accused of wanting a rubber-stamp Congress. Following the disastrous 1937 court-packing plan, involving FDR's proposal to increase the number of Justices on the Supreme Court to 15, including up to six "assistant" Justices, one for every Justice over age 70, his power domestically was considerably reduced. Since that time, the balance had been shifted from the White House to Congress. Only the bipartisanship on foreign policy, led in part by the late Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, had made it possible to take essential steps to hold the line against Communist aggression, and those steps were often taken at a time when it was almost too late to save endangered portions of the free world.

Now, a group of influential Republicans in the Senate appeared determined that authority would be even more directly concentrated in Congress. Recently, the Senate Appropriations Committee proposed to hire General James Van Fleet as its staff expert on military matters. The General had recently made sensational charges of interference with battle plans by shortages of ammunition, during his 22 months as commander of the U.S. Eighth Army in Korea. Such a position on the Senate Committee would render him almost as powerful as the Joint Chiefs, as that Committee could determine the size and, to some extent, the kind of forces which the Chiefs had at their disposal. It would, in effect, result in the country having two Defense Departments.

The resulting dangerous blurring of the powers of the different branches of Government had been evident in the dispute over whether Congress should obtain executive department files, as brought to a head during the recent confirmation hearings of Charles Bohlen as Ambassador to Russia. The chief counsel of the McCarthy Investigating subcommittee was Roy Cohn, formerly of the Justice Department, where, according to Mr. Childs in a previous column, he had access to the Bohlen file and supplied Senator McCarthy with material from it. Mr. Cohn had since denied that charge, saying that he never knew that a file on Mr. Bohlen existed. Mr. Childs indicates that it was good to be able to print that assurance, but the fact remained that Senators had knowledge of hearsay and rumor, the Bohlen file having become the basis for "the meanest innuendo that the career diplomat was a security risk." Senators Taft and John Sparkman thus had to intervene, volunteering to inspect the FBI summary of the file, then assuring the Senate that the file contained nothing adverse to Mr. Bohlen.

He concludes that the policies likely to be formulated on foreign and military policy in the Congress during the coming weeks would bear no resemblance to those policies on which the President had been elected by a substantial majority the prior fall, and it appeared as an important fact which would not escape the American public.

Robert C. Ruark indicates his admiration for Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson for having put his foot down on blabbermouthing in the armed forces. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Lovett had told Mr. Wilson that the laws of the country were inadequate to protect against "traitors, spies, and blabbermouths." Because of such blabbermouths, indicates Mr. Ruark, spying had been made nearly superfluous. He indicates that Washington was the preeminent breeding ground for such rumor mongering.

The services tended to compete with one another as to whether battleships, planes, bombs, atom bombs or infantry could better defend the country. They talked freely to journalists, off the record, and blabbed at country clubs and hotel bars, etc., where all manner of military secrets received public airing.

Mr. Ruark suggests that Mr. Wilson ought stop worrying about the matter, as there was no such thing as secrecy in Washington, "as long as there are people on the Potomac."

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