The Charlotte News

Friday, August 28, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that at Panmunjom, a returned American prisoner had said the previous day that the Communists had informed his camp that they would return all captives, including those convicted of "germ warfare" or other "crimes" which carried sentences which would nullify repatriation. This date, the Communists returned 144 additional Americans, many of whom told of continuing brutality and torture behind closed doors right up to the time of the Armistice. One returnee said that he was aware of 20 to 25 men presently at Kaesong, where prisoners were being assembled for repatriation, whose sentences had been as high as 15 years in prison, that everything indicated that they would be repatriated. Among the prisoners returned the previous day had been Americans captured early in the war, some saying they had been beaten and tortured almost until the time of the Armistice on July 27. The Americans were laughing and happy, appearing to be the most jubilant group of prisoners to return thus far during the 24 days of the exchange program. The Communists promised to return 145 more Americans and 250 South Koreans, plus five others, on Saturday. This date's returnees brought the total number of Americans to 2,422 out of the 3,313 scheduled to be repatriated, with a total of 9,819 having been returned out of the 12,776 scheduled for repatriation by the Communists.

In Mitchell, S.D., it was learned that the wife of a soldier who had been released from a Communist prison camp Wednesday after being thought killed, had remarried, though the second marriage was later annulled. The wife testified during the annulment proceeding that she had heard from another prisoner in Korea the previous fall that her husband had been killed during his captivity and that she still believed that he was dead. The annulment had been initiated by her second husband.

At the U.N. in New York, the General Assembly this date endorsed the U.S.-backed plan for the Korean peace conference, despite vigorous opposition from Russia. The plan provided that only countries who had fought under the U.N. banner would be represented at the conference on the U.N. side. The vote was 43 to 5, with 10 abstentions, with the Soviet bloc casting the negative votes. India had withdrawn from participation in the conference, with the proposal that it be a participant being assured of defeat. The Assembly recommended that Russia could take part in the conference provided that the Communist participants, China and North Korea, approved. The session concluded the work of the special Assembly meeting, which had opened two weeks earlier for the purpose of choosing the U.N. representatives to the conference, scheduled to start in October, probably to be held in Geneva.

In Haiphong in Indo-China, U.S. arms were flowing into the country at a steadily rising rate, bolstering French Union forces against any fall offensive which the Communist Vietminh might decide to undertake. Big supplies of heavy equipment were being unloaded almost daily at Haiphong along the Gulf of Tonkin, 64 miles east of Hanoi, the war capital for the French armies. U.S. aid had begun about three years earlier but of late, the stream of supplies had increased rapidly. It was estimated by the commander-in-chief of the French Naval forces in the Far East that 20,000 tons of war matériel were being delivered monthly by the U.S., at a cost of about 500 million dollars per year. The French were spending approximately 1.3 billion dollars per year on the war. The French estimated that the armies of Ho Chi Minh were obtaining more than 3,000 tons of war matériel monthly from Communist China, most of it manufactured in Czechoslovakia, Russia or China. The French were assessing how much effect the truce in Korea would have on Chinese Communist supply shipments to the Vietminh. It appeared that the stream of U.S. supplies to the French Union ports would enable the French armies to have all the supplies needed to cope with any Vietminh offensive and to initiate offensive drives to try to obtain a decision in the seven-year war.

In Tokyo, the U.S. Air Force said this night that the giant B-36 bombers flown to Japan during the week under war-like secrecy were teaming with other warplanes in a "realistic combat-type" Far East exercise, taking place within 70 miles of Vladivostok. The B-36's had landed near Tokyo on Tuesday after a flight across the Pacific, and a second flight had landed during this morning to join the exercise, dubbed "Operation Big Stick".

Congressional leaders this date hailed a new Administration budget as a step toward lower taxes and avoiding the necessity of having to raise the Federal debt limit at present. The new budget reduced by two billion dollars the estimates of just a few months earlier regarding Federal spending for the current fiscal year. Secretary of the Treasury George Humphrey said that the picture was now brighter than the Administration's best expectations previously had anticipated and that it had "turned the corner" on deficit spending. Barring unexpected events, the Administration would propose a balanced budget for the ensuing fiscal year, with chances of increases in taxes having been reduced, though there were under consideration several tax changes, including the possible implementation of a national sales tax.

A Federal grand jury in Washington this date indicted Ben Gold, president of the fur workers union, on charges that he lied when he swore in an affidavit to the NLRB in August, 1950 that he was not a Communist. The union had been ousted from the CIO in 1949 on grounds that it had been infiltrated by Communists. Under the Taft-Hartley Act, union officials were required to file non-Communist affidavits, failure to do so resulting in the union not being able to partake of NLRB services in collective bargaining.

Thousands of telephone workers in Washington, D.C., Maryland and West Virginia, probably numbering about 10,000 in all, went on strike this date, joining about 60,000 other members of the Communications Workers of America who had already gone on strike in Indiana and in the six-state area of the Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. Phone service in the struck areas remained normal, however, as supervisory employees filled in for the striking workers and mechanical equipment kept local calls going through. The union was seeking pay increases of between two dollars and three dollars per week, while the company was reported to have offered raises between $1.50 and $2.50 per week for the workers whose wages presently ranged between $44.50 and $74.50.

In San Francisco, it was reported that two fugitive Communist leaders and three of their followers charged with harboring them in a remote mountain hideout, had been captured the previous day by FBI agents posing as campers. A fourth follower was arrested late the previous night, 100 miles away. All had been jailed, one in Alcatraz Prison. Sixteen FBI agents in blue jeans caught two of the men in a cabin 8,000 feet up in the rugged Sierra Nevada Mountains, about 200 miles east of San Francisco, climaxing a two-year manhunt. One of the two, Robert George Thompson, had been one of the top 11 Communist leaders convicted in 1951 of violating the Smith Act, and he was immediately placed in Alcatraz. He had disappeared two years earlier after failing to appear in court for sentencing. Sidney Steinberg had been indicted with 21 other second-rung Communists in 1951 on similar Smith Act charges, and was jailed on $100,000 bail in San Francisco, set for arraignment in extradition proceedings.

In Williamston, N.C., two young gunmen, both about 20, held up the Guaranty Bank and Trust Co. this date and escaped with $18,842 in a late model Mercury. Roadblocks were established in the area by the State Highway Patrol and the FBI. In Charlotte, FBI agent William Murphy said that the pair had last been seen on Highway 64, headed west toward Bethel. The getaway car had been found abandoned on a rural road between Everetts and Hamilton, about ten miles northwest of Williamston, about an hour after the holdup. The Highway Patrol had initially been looking for a Dodge taxicab which had followed the getaway vehicle as it sped out of Williamston, but police later reported that the taxi had been found, with the driver stating that he had been giving chase to the getaway car. A helicopter and bloodhounds had joined the manhunt. The cashier said that both of the men were obviously amateurs, that he was at his desk when one of them stuck something in his back and said "stick 'em up", to which he had responded that they could not get away with the robbery, opening his shirt to expose a scar on his stomach, saying that he had been through a robbery before. The man then told him to "get going", and he was given a bag into which he was to deposit the cash from the tellers. Meanwhile, the other man was standing by the vault, holding a gun on two or three customers who were in the bank when the robbers arrived, and on the eight other employees.

In Plymouth, England, a stag hound, which had just chased a deer into the River Yeo, had shot and seriously injured two hunters the previous day. One of the hunters had killed the deer with one shot from a double-barreled shotgun after it had plunged into the river to throw off the hounds from its scent, then laid the weapon on the ground, whereupon the stag hound stepped on the trigger, which fired the second barrel into both hunters. Their condition was not provided.

In Union City, Tenn., an owl received a pair of spectacles by plucking them from the nose of a man walking in his garden. The man was jolted by a stiff wallop on the back of his head and another smack in his face, and said that the next thing he saw was a little screech owl flying away with his glasses in its bill. He had not seen his glasses or the owl since.

Beware, the animals are revolting.

On the editorial page, "At Last, Some Hope for Feeble Minded" indicates that North Carolina's facilities for white feeble-minded children at Caswell Training School in Kinston had always been tragically inadequate, as only the most serious cases could be accepted, those being least subject to treatment, rendering the School a center only for custodial care. Admission was denied to hundreds of other children who needed institutionalization, forcing them to remain in the care of their families, without opportunity to become useful, productive citizens.

Prospects for black feeble-minded children had been even more dismal, as there were no state facilities for such children. On rare occasions, a child had been admitted to the Goldsboro State Hospital, but even then, it was only for custodial care.

A provision had been made to bridge that gap with a 22 million dollar bond issue on the ballot for October 23, providing for 4.5 million dollars for a new institution at Goldsboro for black children, 4.5 million for another institution for white children at Camp Butner, and 1.5 million for enlarging the capacity of the Caswell School.

It indicates that of the two black teenagers who had confessed to the fatal stabbing of the nurse on August 2, the 16-year old who had confessed doing the actual stabbing had been adjudged feeble-minded in late 1950, but there had been no place to which to send him. It suggests that the tragedy pointed up the urgency of providing a place for such unfortunate children where they could obtain specialized help and treatment so that they might lead nearly normal lives.

"Sen. Bricker Fights a Lost Cause" indicates that Senator John W. Bricker vowed to carry his fight for the amendment to the treaty ratification clause of the Constitution to the floor of the Senate the following year, though the cards were stacked against him. Secretary of State Dulles had made a presentation the previous week to the ABA, in which he made clear his opposition to the amendment on the basis that numerous treaties which were approved by the Senate in the first session of Congress in 1953 would not have been approved under the Bricker amendment, as they dealt with state matters, indicating, he said, that the Senate did not fully understand the amendment, that it would require ratification for executive agreements and thereby hamstring the President's authority in that area.

It suggests that the proponents of the amendment, if they genuinely feared that treaties could abridge parts of the Constitution, ought accept the compromise proposed by Senator William Knowland of California and cease trying to confuse the American people with "a bunch of nonsense".

"The Importance of Driver Education" indicates that Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and North Carolina were at the bottom of the list of states in per capita income, in that descending order, with only South Carolina being lower, the same ranking with respect to driver education participation by high school students. In Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Nevada, all of the eligible students took driving lessons during the previous school year, with participation being on average 54.2 percent nationwide. But in North Carolina, only one of every eight high school students took driver's education in school, as only one of every five schools in the state offered such courses.

New Motor Vehicle commissioner Ed Scheidt, formerly of the FBI, had included driver education as one of the three means of achieving highway safety, and one major insurance company had offered auto insurance rate discounts for high school-trained drivers. Studies in Vermont and Wisconsin had shown that school-trained drivers were involved in fewer accidents and had fewer violations than the untrained drivers. Governor William B. Umstead had recommended in his January inaugural address that a driver's training program be established in every public high school in the state, a goal, it suggests, which ought be supported by every parent, PTA group and school official in the state.

In Mecklenburg County and Charlotte, school officials apparently favored establishment of driver education courses, but because of reported difficulties in finding more qualified instructors, courses at two high schools might be discontinued. It indicates that if school officials were made aware of the public desire for such courses, they would make every effort to offer high school students in the county the opportunity to learn how to drive safely.

"What Might Have Been in Charlotte" indicates that urban redevelopment was dead in the city and throughout the state, while it was alive and growing in more progressive communities. It looks at Pittsburgh as an example of the latter, where, during the previous five years, the urban redevelopment program had resulted in a net gain of over 34 million dollars worth of property and building valuations in the areas which had been redeveloped. The redevelopment in business areas had resulted in lower tax burdens on the outlying residential areas. Families had been moved from substandard dwellings into decent housing and the former slum dwellings were then razed, with 10 million dollars worth of new public parks and parking garages supplanting them.

It concludes that it was what State Representative Arthur Goodman had denounced as "socialism" in the 1953 General Assembly.

A piece from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, titled "Chug-Chug-Chug, A Whooawwhoooo", indicates that Earl J. Witt of Glencoe, Ill., was doing something big, and it was not washing an elephant. He wanted to save the 12-mile long Hooppole, Yorkton & Tampico Railroad in northern Illinois for posterity, as he was afraid that the diesel trains were going to render the steam locomotive obsolete within a few years and that preserving the old railroad would maintain its memory in children. The railroad had just been ordered abandoned.

It suggests ways to make the railroad authentic to earlier times and wishes Mr. Witt and his railroad the best of luck. It finds the quiet diesel trains with their air-conditioned coaches all right, but also remembers with wistfulness the wonder of the old noisy, smelly steam trains, "with an affection which not even vista-dome cars can expect to rival."

A piece from the Chicago Tribune indicates that there were more generals in the Pentagon presently than there had been in all of the 18th Century and the Napoleonic wars combined, finds it another example of a long-term trend, established since the times when governments had begun fighting wars themselves rather than hiring mercenaries for the task. It reviews the conceptualization of the rank of general through time, indicating that at the time of the Revolution, the U.S. had nothing above a major general, though the title of "general of the armies" was subsequently conferred on General Washington. For 100 years, major general remained the top regular rank, though Winfield Scott had been made a "lieutenant general" in 1855 and the title "general of the army" was conferred successively on Ulysses Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman and Philip Sheridan after the Civil War. In 1895, lieutenant general was revived as a regular rank for the chief of staff, a rank held successively by seven men prior to World War I. The number of major generals had increased from six in 1900 to 108 during World War I, such that two additional lieutenant generals, two full generals and, following the war, a general of the armies were created.

During World War II, there were 500 major generals, 69 lieutenant generals and 13 full generals, such that the title of general of the army had to be revived to honor four of the latter group. It indicates that at the other end of the scale, there were still a few privates.

Drew Pearson indicates that civil defense authorities in the U.S. were accelerating plans to evacuate every major city at the first warning of an air attack, based on the news that the Russians had detonated an hydrogen bomb. Russian bombers could not be stopped by present air defenses. Civil defense experts believed that the best solution was quick evacuation, as bomb shelters, while protecting from an atomic blast, were of dubious protection against the intense heat produced by the hydrogen bomb, which could reduce a city the size of New York "to charcoal in one blow". Thus, civil defense authorities had determined that it was impractical to build bomb shelters and more reasonable to concentrate on mass evacuation. They preferred to allow each individual to work out their own evacuation plan and come back to town at their leisure when the danger was over, but military leaders wanted to organize the factory workers so that they could be rushed back into town immediately to begin rebuilding the factories and resume production if a town were spared by the blast. Officials were most worried about the inadequacy of the air raid warning system. The Air Force had built a radar net across the Canadian border and along both coasts, with each major city ringed by radar and antiaircraft guns, the only gaps being along the Southern frontier, relatively free from Russian long-range bombers—at least, for the present.

The majority of Russian bombers would be able to get through the defense net, especially in a night or bad-weather attack, particularly if they penetrated the radar net at scattered points. One device had been developed to provide several hours of advance notice of any suspicious flights over a route which enemy bombers might take to reach the U.S., but scientists feared that electronic equipment could be depended on only about half the time in certain climates.

The U.S. experts were convinced, however, that the Russians had not yet perfected the hydrogen bomb ingredients into an actual bomb, though it was only a matter of time before they would. The U.S. had actually built and detonated a hydrogen bomb, albeit one so large it could barely fit into the bomb-bay of the nation's largest airplanes and would be difficult to drop without destroying the plane carrying it. Russia's long-range bomber, the TU-4, could be modified to carry the hydrogen bomb in time. The Russians could also convert submarines to carry and fire hydrogen bombs along the U.S. coasts. The Navy had posted picket ships, equipped with sensitive sonar, along the coasts to listen for such submarines, but the Navy acknowledged that the barrier was not foolproof. Until a better warning net was established, the Air Force argued that the best defense against a Russian hydrogen bomb attack would be the power to retaliate in kind.

Stewart Alsop, having returned from Europe, indicates that a recently suggested idea for a political cartoon in Europe had been to show the President and Secretary of State Dulles roaring along at breakneck speed in a vehicle labeled "American World Leadership", with Secretary Dulles nudging the President, saying nervously, "Don't look now, but nobody's following us." He indicates that the idea might be a bit premature, but that it was easy to foresee a situation, starting perhaps with a French failure to ratify the European unified army pact, in which the U.S. would be going one way and all of the Western allies, the other. Everyone in Europe agreed that the American-led Western coalition was on shaky ground, and no one, including the Administration's major representatives abroad, failed to agree that it was mainly the result of loss of American prestige and thus the capacity to lead, diminished in recent months.

U.S. Ambassador to Britain, Winthrop Aldrich, and Ambassador to France, Douglas Dillon, had indicated as much in a series of warning messages to Washington, stressing the adverse impact which McCarthyism was having on American prestige, so significant that it had become a subject, apparently, for official review by the National Security Council. McCarthyism had become a convenient symbol in Europe of its fears about America, that the U.S. appeared dominated by Congressional extremists, Asia-Firsters, and isolationists, rendering the President powerless. The better informed Europeans had been somewhat reassured by the President's evident determination to become master of his own house, but Senator McCarthy remained a symbol of a U.S. foreign policy so rigid and inflexible as to render war inevitable.

Following the 1952 elections in the U.S., Europeans had prepared for a great change in American foreign policy, that which had been promised during the campaign, producing nightmares of a bellicose American effort in Eastern Europe and Asia. Now they feared U.S. policy, not because it might change, but because it appeared incapable of change.

Washington, he suggests, ought ponder the European response to Prime Minister Churchill's May 11 speech, calling for a Big Four conference of the heads of state, including Russia, a call which no European leader had dared criticize, but which the U.S. had denounced as "irresponsible".

Since 1950, U.S. policy in Europe had been based on the assumption that the division of the Continent into two parts, the Communist section and the Western section, was permanent. That was an intolerable condition for Europeans, especially Germans, who foresaw a permanently divided country. To the French and British, it meant that physical survival in case of war was doubtful. Yet, the Eisenhower Administration had continued operating under that assumption, more rigidly than the Truman Administration. It was suggested by the angry reaction in Washington to Prime Minister Churchill's speech and the reluctance to discuss seriously any proposals for German unification. The reaction in Europe to Senator McCarthy was only a symptom of a wide gulf occurring between the U.S. and Europe. "If we continue to appear the eternal nay-sayers, the apostles of rigidity, the gulf is likely to become so wide that the whole structure of our foreign policy will come crashing about our ears."

Marquis Childs discusses the coup which had taken place the previous week in Iran, with Maj. General Zahedi displacing Mohammed Mossadegh as Premier, followed by the return of the Shah from a six-day exile. The new regime was secure in most of the country, with the pro-Communist Tudeh Party having gone underground. The new Government was a last opportunity for the West, one which would be short-lived unless there was a quick and realistic settlement of the oil dispute between Iran and Britain, regarding the nationalized oil properties of the British.

The financial condition of Iran was worse than the Shah had stated when he said the country was broke. The State Department believed that temporary aid could be furnished to see the Government through the immediate crisis, but a more difficult challenge was presented by the attempt to settle the three-year oil dispute. There was no clear change in the Iranian opinion of the British, with American observers indicating that nationalism was as strong as ever in the country.

General Zahedi had a checkered past and the West could count on his support only so long as it provided him aid. During World War II, Fitzroy MacLean of Britain, presently a Conservative member of Parliament, had been in Iran to try to help prevent a plot by Hitler to take over Iran with internal help, furnished, as it turned out, by General Zahedi, as later established by a search of his rooms after his kidnapping by Mr. MacLean on orders of the British. They found documentary proof of his working alliance with the Nazis and that the kidnapping had come just in time to stop the plot from coming to fruition.

A letter writer indicates that with the growing city of Charlotte, there was increasing traffic, and increasing incidence of pedestrian mishaps with automobiles. He had recently observed in Los Angeles what he believed was "an ideal traffic situation", with both traffic and pedestrians handled well, the latter treated as human beings, "not like a dog that was supposed to move when a driver blew his automobile horn." Laws which gave pedestrians the right of way and prohibited jaywalking were equally prosecuted. He believes that if both laws were enforced in Charlotte, there would be more respect for pedestrians and fewer casualties.

We cannot speak to the traffic situation in Los Angeles in 1953, but can say with some authority that by around 1976, the writer's opinion, bad as Charlotte traffic is, would have definitely changed, as long as he was not blind.

A letter writer from Pittsboro addresses at some length the prospect of the Russians having the hydrogen bomb, lists several statistics about the bomb and its power, but believes that the possession of it by the Russians established a kind of balance between the powerful nations of the earth, that potential use of the atomic bomb by the U.S. against another nation had produced an uneasy feeling among the peoples of the earth, whereas now there would be a feeling that neither Russia nor the U.S. could initiate an annihilative attack. He analogizes to germ warfare, of which all powerful nations were capable of waging, but no one had, as starting such an attack would only precipitate retaliation in kind. He favors, in short, mutually assured destruction as deterrence to initiation of nuclear warfare.

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