The Charlotte News

Friday, May 1, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that at Panmunjom, the allies had warned the Communist negotiators bluntly this date that failure to release the more than 375 additional disabled allied prisoners of war who were believed still in their custody would leave no choice but to question their "sincerity" in the full truce talks in Korea. The negotiations got nowhere this date in seeking the establishment of a neutral nation acceptable to both sides, which would act as caretaker for the 48,000 able-bodied Communist prisoners still in the custody of the U.N., who had indicated a desire not to repatriate. The neutral nation, under agreed terms, would act as an arbitrator of the repatriation issue, while the Communists would have a certain period of time, as yet undetermined, to talk to the prisoners and try to convince them to return home. The U.N. suggested Sweden, but the Communists continued to refuse to name any country. They had already rejected Switzerland, previously nominated by the U.N. The Communists had responded that the accusation by the U.N. Command that they were holding out on release of additional disabled prisoners, was "groundless" and "willful slander", not worth refuting. The U.N. Command said that, based on reports of returned disabled prisoners, at least 234 non-Koreans and 141 Koreans who were disabled had not yet been released. Thus far, the Communists had released 684 allied disabled prisoners, including 149 Americans, more than the originally promised 605. The allies, including 500 to be released the following day, would have released 6,500 disabled Communists, 700 more than the originally promised 5,800. It was not yet known whether the 500 released Communists the following day would be the last for the present. The allies had expressed the notion that the return of disabled prisoners was considered a continuing process on both sides, as wounded prisoners were newly captured or became ill while in custody.

In the air war, 50 Sabre jets flying as dive bombers this date blasted the Pyongyang radio station and a large military headquarters building in that city. The Pyongyang radio station claimed that three of the Sabres had been shot down during the raid, after which the station left the air for a few minutes, not determined yet whether it had been the result of the raid.

There were only a few minor skirmishes on the ground, as the Communist armies along the battle front celebrated May Day. An allied briefing officer told correspondents that the current lull in ground action was "not particularly significant", in response to reporters' questions regarding whether it was connected with the current resumption of the truce talks.

The Soviet Union's Defense Minister, Marshal Nikolai Bulganin, in a short May Day address in Red Square in Moscow, called on leaders of the Western world this date to back up their recent peaceful statements with peaceful actions. He demanded substantial evidence, particularly a reduction of armaments in lands near the Soviet Union, as a sign that other countries were seeking a peaceful solution to the world's problems. Pravda, the Communist Party newspaper, in an article by Ilya Ehrenberg, called for an armistice in the cold war, which, he said, was ruining all people, that if an armistice could be effected in the hot war in Korea, then it ought also occur in the cold war.

In Japan, 10,000 jeering leftists youths tangled with 1,500 police when the youths refused to disperse at the end of what had been a peaceful May Day parade by a half million laborers through the downtown streets. One of the largest May Day celebrations occurred in Berlin, where the Eastern and Western sectors of the city staged rival shows less than a mile apart, in the Soviet sector, workers having marched for hours past a reviewing stand containing top Communist Government chiefs and Russian officials, in the West, citizens massing in front of the ruined Reichstag to hear anti-Communist speeches.

In Buenos Aires, seven bomb explosions occurred this date, the seventh having detonated while El Presidente Juan Peron was addressing the opening of the 87th Argentine Congress, clearly heard inside the chamber. All of the bombs had been left in small public parks, where damage was unlikely. Police were spaced about ten yards apart along both sides of the street over which El Presidente rode from his residence to the Congress for his annual state of the nation address.

In Laos, observers believed that the battle to decide the fate of the royal capital, Luangprabang, located in the mountains, might take place within the ensuing eight hours, as Vietminh guerrillas of Ho Chi Minh were approaching on foot from neighboring Viet Nam, after having engulfed more than a third of Laos in less than the prior three weeks. If the Vietminh won that battle, they would shortly thereafter be able to reach the borders of Burma and Thailand, each of which had sizable Communist contingents. The Vietminh were about 80 miles from Thailand and 160 miles from Burma. Four to five Vietminh divisions had poured into Laos since the first attack there on April 12. Presently, they were reported within 12 miles of the royal capital on the north and east, but the French had promised a last-ditch defense of the little town of 6,000, with a fast-paced airlift depositing French Union troops and American-supplied war matériel into the town. It was believed that the final assault on the town by the Vietminh would come early Sunday morning, as the Sabbath was a favorite day for Vietminh attacks—perhaps emulating Ho Chi Minh's military hero, George Washington, and the Continental Army's Christmas night attack on the Hessians in 1776, or, perhaps, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, in a strategic effort to catch the enemy off guard. The French and Laotians were confident that they could defeat the invaders, but to date, the posts manned by the forces in the path of the Vietminh had fallen one by one.

The President, at his press conference the previous day, said that it would be impossible to bring expenditures completely in line with revenue and produce a balanced budget in the coming fiscal year, and appeared prepared to ask Congress to delay indefinitely any new tax cuts. Senator Walter George of Georgia, a Democrat, indicated that there may not be any new tax reductions other than the already scheduled lapse of the excess profits tax on July 1 and a 10 percent reduction in individual income tax, scheduled for January 1. Majority Leader Taft said that Congress might have to approve new appropriations without any final spending estimates for the coming fiscal year. Some leaders in the House, however, still were hoping for a tax cut during the year, with Republican Leader Charles Halleck stating in an interview that he would not rule it out, but did not anticipate a large fight with the Administration. House Speaker Joseph Martin said that he remained hopeful that enough cuts in appropriations could be made to justify a tax cut.

New RNC chairman Leonard Hall announced at a news conference in Washington the cutting of staff from 139 to around 100, and trimming of expenditures by about $100,000 per year.

In Warner Robins, Ga., a tornado hit the community at twilight the previous day, killing 15 persons and causing property damage estimated in the millions. Between 250 and 300 persons were injured by the tornado.

In Haw River, N.C., former Governor Kerr Scott said this date that he had no immediate plans for making any political announcements, as speculation had run that he would enter the 1954 Senate race for the Democratic nomination against the presumptive candidacy of incumbent Willis Smith, who this date announced that he would definitely be a candidate for re-election, despite conservative Democrats in the State Senate having recently suggested, according to an article appearing in the Winston-Salem Journal, that they would try to convince him not to run for fear that he would lose to former Governor Scott. They were reported to be backing another candidate, a State Senator. Senator Smith said that he would not be frightened out of the race by the prospect of a fight for the nomination.

In Raleigh, a 21-year old black semi-literate man, orphaned at age 12, was executed this date in the Central Prison gas chamber for the murder of Harvey Boyd, a farmer of Chocowinity, occurring on the eve of Thanksgiving, 1951. The executed man had told seven fellow inmates on death row to "trust in the Lord and pray", having been baptized during his time in prison. He told the chaplain, who presided over his last hours before execution, that he would be "all right". He had been convicted in Beaufort in January, 1952 of killing the young farmer with a shotgun blast fired through the window of his home. He had been stopped by two Highway Patrolmen, unaware of the killing, shortly afterward, based on the erratic manner in which he was driving away from the Boyd home, and while questioning him, the officers had heard Mrs. Boyd in the trunk of the vehicle where she had been forced by the defendant to remain while dressed in her night clothes. Presumably, therefore, he was also convicted of kidnapping.

In Los Angeles, a juror who would not accept his pay for Federal District Court service, returned a check for $56 to the U.S. Marshal, along with a note asking the Marshal to accept the return of the check as he believed it was his public duty to have served as a juror. The Marshal had been unable to find any regulation which covered such a returned check, and so he would probably send it to the Treasury Department.

In Cleveland, a burglar stole 200 silver dollars the previous night from Jean's Funny House and Museum, and the proprietor indicated that the money was used to decorate Christmas trees for youngsters studying history.

On the editorial page, "Bricker Shows His Hand" indicates that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in its annual meeting in Washington during the week, had heard a group of distinguished speakers expressing diverse views, one of the best of whom had been Undersecretary of State Walter Bedell Smith, who had summarized U.S. foreign policy objectives, saying that the Communists would provide "enthusiastic approval" of erection of new trade barriers among free nations, illustrating the problem of the economic dangers from protectionist measures presently proposed in Congress and emphasizing the need for removal of obstructions to allied unity and flexibility of action, to permit proper resistance to the Communist attempts at aggression, made easier when free countries suffered economically. He also reaffirmed the Administration's opposition to the amendment being sponsored by Senator John W. Bricker to amend the Constitution by making it harder to ratify and implement treaties, and placing executive agreements on the same level, requiring ratification by two-thirds of the Senate and then approval by simple majorities of both houses prior to implementation.

The following day, Senator Bricker had spoken to the Chamber, taking great issue with Undersecretary Smith's speech, calling it a "misleading statement" which he did not intend to tolerate, that he did not intend to allow any appointive officer of the State Department to tell him what he was going to do. The piece finds it an astounding statement, as the Undersecretary had not been attempting to tell the Senator what to do, but was merely stating the position of the Administration on foreign trade and the treaty-making powers. It suspects that Senator Bricker, who had justified his proposed amendment on the basis of fear of excessive presidential authority in foreign affairs, actually was directing the amendment at curtailing internationalist policies, in favor of the Senator's fervent isolationism. It strongly favors rejection of the amendment by Congress.

"A Better Anti-Klan Law" indicates that although State and Federal authorities had been able to smash the Klan in the Eastern part of the state with existing statutes, Solicitor Clifton Moore of Burgaw, who had prosecuted the Columbus County flogging cases the previous year, had felt that a stronger law was necessary and had asked the General Assembly to pass such a bill, it having become law during the current week. Originally, the law, as written, might have been applied to such secret organizations as the American Legion, the Order of Masonry, social fraternities, labor unions, and the like, having been phrased in language which was overbroad. As amended, the law only applied to prohibit secret societies organized for the purpose of circumventing state law, and regulated the wearing of masks in public, the holding of secret meetings by such societies, and banning the burning of crosses for the purposes of intimidation.

It suggests that the Klan had been thoroughly smashed in the state and that there was little likelihood that it could ever be revitalized, but that in the event a shrewd organizer did manage to "peddle his hate to simple and misguided Tar Heels", the new law would be available to prosecute such activities. In the meantime, it suggests, citizens of the state ought remember that the final answer to the Klan and all forms of hate and prejudice was tolerance, sympathy for the underdog, a spirit of brotherhood, and the rooting out of conditions which caused "men's minds to shrink to the dimensions of Klan mentality."

Incidentally, lest some smart-assed, juvenile-minded, neo-Nazi-type Trumpie-Dumpy-Do suggest that because wearing of a mask in public is prohibited by law, all mask-wearing during the 2020 pandemic is therefore unlawful in North Carolina and other such states prohibiting wearing of masks, such laws, obviously, apply only to masks which disguise the most identifiable of facial features, the eyes. We haven't heard anyone expressly make such a claim, but some of these smart-asses around the country have occasionally popped up wearing Klan hoods to the supermarket and the like, presumably as some half-assed expression of protest by a bunch of redneck holes in the ground to having their "freedom" curtailed to be infected and to infect others with a virulent, deadly disease for which there is, as yet, no vaccine or recognized treatment and which is highly contagious and transmissible through close contact of less than six feet.

You might note that we have been practicing our own special form of social distancing at this site, in an extra-cautious manner, having fallen fully three weeks behind your 2020 date here in 1953, by far the longest period of discrepancy in twelve and a half continuous years of six-day per week renderings for you. But we figured we were due a little respite, along with the rest of the country, having not had any substantial one in that entire twelve and a half years, since October, 2007. We shall catch up with you in due course, when the spirit moves us—regardless of what Robert C. Ruark may think of slow-pokes. It takes longer to do things in these days of the Coronavirus, neighbor. We have to move at a more deliberate pace, being duly cautious of our fellow citizens and the space they accord us, not because we do not like them anymore but because they could kill us, quite unwittingly, simply by breathing in our general direction at a too close range. Do not hesitate gently to remind those persons who are insistent on being too close in the market and elsewhere that they need to move back. It is usually someone, we find, behind in line, who seems mesmerized by our rear end, and wants to get closer, apparently to get a good and long look, as in vehicular traffic. We think we may don a shirt soon which states on the back: "Follow at a safe distance of at least six feet, or we may kill you."

"Speeders Beware" indicates that in the last days of the 1953 session of the General Assembly, a sensible bill had been resurrected and enacted, providing for a 30-day suspension of a driver's license for speeding over 70 mph, and a 60-day suspension for a second such conviction within a year, both suspensions being mandatory. It suggests that the statute's usefulness would be a function of its enforcement, but that it should deter many chronic speeders from speeding. It also ought encourage, it thinks, the State Highway Patrol to expand its system of speed control through radar.

"Lots of Big Leaguers, but Few Fans" tells of North Carolina having turned out, per capita, more Major League baseball players than any other state. According to See magazine, only the three most populous states produced more Major League players than North Carolina, California, with 35, New York, with 32, and Pennsylvania with 28, followed by North Carolina with 20. Thus, out of about every 100,000 men and boys in the state, one became a Major League baseball player. California turned out one per 150,000 and New York, one per 230,000.

The sports editor for See, Curt Gowdy, had offered that climate and "rabid" baseball interest in North Carolina probably had something to do with it. Bill Giles, president of the National League, found it to be a function of the high interest in the state in the minor league games.

The piece takes issue with both assessments, finding that fans stayed away in droves from Griffith Park in Charlotte to see the Hornets play, as only 700 had turned out the previous Wednesday night despite good weather, and crowds had often been even smaller. It concludes, therefore, that ballplayers from the state had hit the big time in spite of, rather than because of, any great fan enthusiasm or appreciation of the game back home.

They prefer football and, increasingly through time, basketball, especially at the college level. Moreover, the absence in 1953 and for 16 years to come of any professional major-league sports team in the state meant that little boys growing into men did not have a regular home team at the professional level to follow, resulting in the status which still largely obtains today regarding support for professional teams in the state. It has long been a different story, of course, in the very large cities of the nation.

"Quick Death" indicates that the 1953 General Assembly had wisely put down three efforts to authorize referendums on ABC stores in small towns, the State House having defeated bills for the towns of Valdese and Lake Lure, and the Senate having killed one for Blowing Rock. It indicates that the state was committed to the county-option system, a good system which was defensible. No one could logically defend ABC voting in units smaller than counties, and any attempts by future legislatures to break the county unit should, it opines, receive the same treatment as the three killed bills.

A piece from the Asheville Citizen, titled "Western N.C.'s Juvenile Delinquents", indicates that an entomologist at N.C. State, who studied locusts in Western North Carolina during late May and early June, had indicated that a swarm of 17-year locusts was on its way. Charlotte News staff writer Donald McDonald had, however, assured, after talking to the professor, that the locusts were not to be compared with those of Biblical times. The piece quotes from Exodus regarding those latter locusts, who had eaten "every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left", not leaving any green thing in the trees or herbs in the field throughout Egypt. The locusts headed for Western North Carolina were merely short-horned grasshoppers, who came from eggs laid 17 years earlier, and so were referred to as "Brand 17". It thus regards it as a teenage problem.

The Far Western United States and the Middle East regularly suffered from such plagues, several years earlier one swarm by the Red Sea having covered an area of 2,000 square miles and left it looking like the aftermath of Sherman's burning of Atlanta in 1864. Around 1875, the grasshoppers had cleaned out the Mississippi Valley. But the 17-year variety only bothered trees, chiefly by laying another batch of 17-year cycle eggs.

It concludes: "Well, hearties, there is nothing to do but wait and see what happens. Chins up! Did not Exodus add: "… before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such."

The News Bulletin of the Public Administration Clearing House, in a reprinted abstract, regards the off-street parking lots established in many cities the previous year to alleviate overcrowded street parking. It reports that 70 cities had established parking lots for the first time during 1952, and that 164 other cities built additional parking lots during the year, bringing the total parking lots constructed during the year to 331. Overall, 519 cities, out of 1,126 with populations over 10,000, reported that they had been operating a total of 1,465 parking lots. More than half of those lots were in cities with populations between 10,000 and 25,000.

And it goes on with such statistics, should you have a special interest in the state of parking lots in the country in 1953. Perhaps, you would like to write an arcane term paper on the subject for your class in parking management, just as an exercise in how to waste time on a budget.

Anyway, it had great relevance, we are certain, in 1953, to Charlotteans, but, has lost some of its flavor on the bedpost during its 67-year sticking place.

Drew Pearson tells of some of the backstage maneuvering regarding the firing of Dr. Allen Astin as head of the Bureau of Standards by Secretary of Commerce Sinclair Weeks, at the behest of Craig Sheaffer, head of the Sheaffer pen company, who was an Assistant Secretary, before the order was rescinded pending an investigation by a board of scientists regarding the work of the Bureau, after a furor had developed, with threatened resignations from the Bureau by many scientists, following the firing. Prior to the firing, the president of the American Machine & Foundry Co. had paid a visit to the Bureau, and, being a good friend of Secretary Weeks, was given a warm reception, explaining to the scientists at the Bureau that the Government's research and development program regarding fuses would soon be taken away from the Bureau and that his company would be glad to take it over. It was the first that the scientists had heard of this issue with the fuse program, and they had gone ahead with their work, thinking that the advice was perhaps mere speculation. After further lobbying by the company at both the Pentagon and the Commerce Department, Secretary Weeks, on March 25, had written a confidential letter to Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson, urging the Pentagon to remove the fuse program from the Bureau, a letter from which the column quotes. The Defense Department was aware of the superb job the Bureau had done regarding fuses, having developed the proximity fuse during World War II, which exploded when it approached its target, allowing guided missiles to steer a course. Following the firing of Dr. Astin, Army and Navy experts had written to Mr. Wilson warning of the danger to the guided missile program if Dr. Astin were not reinstated. But eventually, Secretary Weeks got his way and Secretary Wilson issued instructions to curtail further military research funds for the Bureau.

Mr. Pearson provides a series of snippets, indicating in one that Comptroller General Lindsay Warren, formerly of North Carolina, had ordered his investigators to audit the huge airmail subsidies to the airlines, noting that a similar investigation had led to reform of the Maritime Commission.

The Chinese Communists were quietly withdrawing a full division from the Korean front, and captured Communist prisoners said that it was on its way back to China, suggesting evidence that the latest bid for peace by the Communists was genuine.

Communists were seeking to create a rumor that the three atomic explosions in Russia were misfires and that Russia still did not have the atomic bomb, but U.S. atomic scientists had determined from the evidence that the Russian explosions were too efficient to have been misfires.

Marquis Childs indicates that the returning disabled prisoners from Communist captivity in North Korea would need to be treated beyond merely their physical health, but also with regard to the memories of the pain and squalor and endless days and months "with no slightest joy of memory or anticipation to mark an eternity of nothingness." They would want to know what the American people had been doing on the home front while they had been imprisoned. The answer in the case of Korea, a relatively small war, was that most people had been going about their business. And it had been a flourishing business, as the war had spurred the economy to a record peak of activity. The people, therefore, had shiny new cars which were crowding the highways, while a million American tourists were expected to visit Europe in the coming summer. It was a picture of the country at full prosperity, waging a "half-war without any slackening of the flow of goods and services" reaching the farthest corners. He wonders whether the returning prisoners would understand how the country could so blithely go about its business while they had suffered.

They would have the best of medical care through the armed services, and would, in time, be restored to a normal, healthy life. But, he suggests, more was due them, a day of national dedication, or re-dedication, to the faith in freedom for which they had given so much, a day of prayer and thanksgiving. It would be a day to honor their sacrifice and raise a new awareness of what it had meant.

The defense of Korea had been vital to U.S. security, and the first troops rushed into the fight in mid-1950 had been poorly prepared. They had gone from ordinary garrison duty in Japan to a full-fledged campaign of aggression, leading to heavy casualties in the first few weeks of combat. Most had been conscripted and yet had stood up to the challenge until reinforcements could be trained and brought from the U.S.

He equates Pusan or Seoul to Lexington and Concord of old, that in the days of jet travel, the world had gotten smaller, and these troops had been assigned front-line duties to protect the nation.

"But their meaning is precisely what it was in that other testing time. A day of homage to those to whom we owe so much would be in reality for us at home a privilege. It might help toward a rediscovery of the hard truths on which our free society was established. That is, above all, the truth that freedom is not something that comes for nothing."

Robert C. Ruark indicates that he had stopped driving a car years earlier and did not ride at all on the highways much anymore, but applauds Governor Dewey's effort to crack down on slowpoke drivers in New York, with the passage of a law, effective the following July 1, which provided that no motorists could drive at such a slow speed to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic. He finds that every time he had encountered death on the highways, it was from "some dundering slowpoke immersed in the beauties of the highway advertisements, or some character having a fight with his wife or blandishing a dame. These are the gay boys who always make the left-hand turn with a right-hand signal, or suddenly scoot off the road to nip into a filling station with no signal at all." The primary problem was not, generally speaking, the speeders, or the reckless drivers who passed other cars dangerously, though they posed their own special risks.

So he welcomes the new legislation and hopes that it would serve to get the slowpokes and their usually accompanying jalopies off the roads, to make driving that much safer.

You want to try, Ruark? We can get real mean, real fast.

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