The Charlotte News

Saturday, September 12, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that at Panmunjom, the U.N. Command was seeking information from the Communists regarding Air Force Captain James Van Fleet, the missing son of the former U.S. Eighth Army commander, Maj. General James Van Fleet. He and double jet ace Captain Harold Fischer, Jr., were both on the U.N. Command's list of 307 U.S. airmen unaccounted for by the Communists after being reportedly captured by them during the war. A Communist newsman in Panmunjom had revealed the previous day that Capt. Fischer was being held by the Chinese Communists, along with a group of other fliers, on charges of violating Communist China's airspace over Manchuria. There were conflicting reports as to whether Capt. Van Fleet and his crew of a B-26 bomber, who had disappeared the previous year, had been rescued at the time, as they had originally been reported as not surviving.

General John E. Hull, who was a 36-year military desk officer, was soon to depart the Pentagon to command troops along the truce line in Korea, after being named by the President the previous day as supreme commander in the Far East, succeeding retiring General Mark Clark as of October 30. General Hall, 58, had not seen combat since World War I, when he had won the Silver Star for gallantry as a junior infantry officer during the Aisne-Marne offensive. He had become something of an expert on atomic weaponry five years earlier when he was in charge of atomic tests on Eniwetok. He was also credited with the primary role in development of the Army's atomic cannon. For the previous two years, he had been vice-chief of staff of the Army.

HUAC this date released testimony taken in hearings in New York the prior July regarding U.S. clergymen having advanced Communism through their work as ministers. Three former Communists who had infiltrated the clergy gave the testimony. One of those implicated, Harry Ward, former professor of the Union Theological Seminary, said the testimony was completely false and that he had never been a member of any political party. One witness, Benjamin Gitlow, had sworn that there had been infiltration of the Methodist Church by Communists, naming several Methodist ministers. One, the Reverend Jack McMichael, had previously denied under oath at a hearing in Washington that he was a Communist. Another, Dr. Willard Uphaus, denied this date the claim, saying that it was "silly, unfounded". The Rev. Lee Ball also denied that he was a Communist or supported the party, but only had been a Christian minister trying to advance peace and civil rights. Others named also denounced the claims.

California Representative Donald Jackson of HUAC stated this date at a press conference in Hollywood that actress Lucille Ball had never been a Communist despite having registered as one 17 years earlier. She had admitted to the Committee's investigator that she had registered in 1936 to vote for the Communist ticket "because grandpa wanted all of us to", but denied ever being a party member or voting for party candidates. Mr. Jackson said that he had called the conference on behalf of the Committee to allay rumors that the redheaded Ms. Ball was Red. He said that the Committee had known about her registration for several years and was only making it public because of rumors which had surfaced. Communist Party members of the 1930's had corroborated Ms. Ball's statements, indicating that they had never seen her at any party meetings. Her husband, Desi Arnaz, said that her grandfather was a character out of "You Can't Take It with You".

Ms. Ball refused to call off the recording of her television show the previous night, although urged to do so by some of her associates. Before the live show, recorded for later broadcast, Mr. Arnaz addressed the studio audience of 300 by saying that his wife had never been a Communist, whereupon the audience, composed of fellow workers and outsiders, applauded for a full minute. Mr. Arnaz indicated that he had been kicked out of Cuba because of Communism and that they both despised everything about it. He said, "Lucy is as American as Barney Baruch and Ike Eisenhower." He said they had both voted for the President the prior November and that the only thing red about her was her hair, and that even that was "not legitimate". Tears filled the eyes of both as the audience cheered them. She addressed the audience at the end of the show, saying, "God bless you for being so kind."

She's not really a redhead?

Senator James Murray of Montana, ranking Democrat on the Labor Committee, said in an interview this date that a new drive for repeal of Taft-Hartley might be the best answer for Democrats to an Administration split over labor policies. He said that he would introduce a bill to repeal the Act in the next session, and would make it an issue in the 1954 Congressional campaign. He said that the resignation the previous day of Secretary of Labor Martin Durkin indicated that Taft-Hartley amendments which the Republicans might offer would not be of the kind promised by the President during the 1952 campaign, when he had expressed sympathy for workers. The chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, Senator Alexander Smith of New Jersey, expressed regret and surprise at the resignation, and said that conversations would continue to try to develop a labor program for legislation to be introduced in early January. Another Democratic member of the Committee, Senator Lister Hill of Alabama, said that he believed the resignation indicated that the Administration would not come up with any modification of the Act which would satisfy labor.

In Newport, R.I., Senator John F. Kennedy married "dazzling" Jacqueline Lee Bouvier at old St. Mary's Church. "The wedding of the handsome legislator and the society girl, who met him while working on a Washington newspaper, was one of the most lavish in Newport in years." Archbishop Richard J. Cushing of Boston officiated at the ceremony and nuptial mass. Leaders of society, politics, business and the entertainment world had packed the church, which sat only 600.

As we have previously pointed out, an ironic footnote would occur a month later when, on October 13, a Washington grand jury would return an indictment against wealthy Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, plus eight other individuals, including former Massachusetts Congressman Walter Casey, and six corporations, for engaging in fraud against the Government involving shipping deals, the indictment remaining sealed, however, until the following February 8. The eight-count indictment charged all defendants with making false applications and submitting false financial statements in connection with the purchase of surplus Government-owned tankers after World War II at pennies on the dollar, leading to huge profits. To add to the irony, a report on the matter had been prepared for FBI director Hoover on September 26, 1953 by Assistant Attorney General Warren Earl Burger—to be appointed Chief Justice by President Nixon in 1969 following the filibustered nomination by President Johnson of Justice Abe Fortas, to replace retiring Chief Justice Earl Warren. Stranger things have happened...

At Fort Campbell, Ky., an AWOL 17-year old soldier was being sought after escaping detention following his arrest on August 21, having eluded his inattentive guards. During his absence, he had claimed in Oklahoma City that he was a student left without parents, and several people, taken in by the story, had helped him enter school, where he was playing high school football when arrested. Last word was that he was at home with his mother, who promised that he would return shortly. The heavy expenses involved in trying to find him and transporting him back to base were going to be taxed to him, according to superiors, when he was finally returned.

In Washington, a housewife saw a man coming out of her neighbor's window with a small radio, gave chase for two blocks, knocked him down and then sat on him until police arrived.

In Las Vegas, Rita Hayworth the previous night turned down a million-dollar divorce settlement from Prince Aly Khan for support of their 3 1/2-year old daughter. The attorney for the Prince had attached two conditions to the offer, that the daughter would be exposed to Moslem teachings when she reached age 7 and would be brought to Europe two or three months each year. Ms. Hayworth said that nothing would make her give up her daughter's chance to live in America among its "precious freedoms and habits". She said that she respected the Moslem faith and all other faiths but wanted her daughter raised as "a normal, healthy American girl in the Christian faith."

In Roanoke, Va., a patient from East Gastonia, N.C., died this date at the Roanoke Veterans Administration Hospital after another patient admitted hitting him. The victim had been a patient since 1949, and the assailant said that he had been teased and slapped in the face by the victim and had responded by striking him, causing him to fall backward on the concrete floor.

Near Elkin, N.C., four men were killed in the collision of a tractor-trailer truck and an automobile on U.S. Highway 21 early this date, with the four killed having been passengers in the car. Neither driver was believed seriously injured. The truck driver said that the car was traveling without lights. Nevertheless, he had been charged with manslaughter and reckless driving.

In Denver, Fred T. Uncle Sam, an Indian laborer from Utah, was jailed for being drunk.

On the editorial page, "Durkin Move Poses Dilemma for Ike" indicates that the resignation of Secretary of Labor Martin Durkin, announced the previous day, had come as a shock and disappointment, as Mr. Durkin was a well-respected union leader, former head of the plumbers union, to which he was returning, was responsible and able. He had not wanted the position, but had taken it on the belief that he could do more within the Administration to help labor than on the outside. It was probable that the President had led him to believe that he would receive support on amendments to Taft-Hartley. Just before Congress had adjourned at the beginning of August, copies of proposed amendments drawn up by Mr. Durkin and White House aides had been circulated among key members, a copy of which had been obtained by the Wall Street Journal and printed, then reprinted in other newspapers and magazines. The reaction to it in both Congress and the business world had been unfavorable, with the amendments viewed as too strongly pro-labor, causing them to be quickly withdrawn by the White House.

Mr. Durkin had apparently become fed up with being isolated from the White House inner circle almost since the beginning of the Administration and had decided he could serve no useful purpose.

In a campaign speech to AFL the prior fall, General Eisenhower had promised to take a "realistic" view of amendments to Taft-Hartley, saying that he would not support amendments which would weaken the rights of working men and women, that labor would have an equal voice with all others in consideration of such amendments. After becoming President, he found out that Congress was not in the mood to make fundamental changes to Taft-Hartley, and so proposed changes were left until the second session.

Mr. Durkin's appointment had signaled an effort to split organized labor leaders from the Democrats and to win at least a portion of labor for the Republicans, but such an effort could hardly expect success unless the Republicans also gave labor what it wanted. Now, the President faced a gap between the goals of organized labor and the prevailing sentiment in Congress, and it would tax his ability as a compromiser to try to close that gap.

"Lennon Labels Himself a Stevenson Man" indicates that new Senator Alton Lennon of North Carolina had recently said to the Young Democrats in Southern Pines that Adlai Stevenson had not been repudiated by the party and that the nation had never produced a man of "greater intellect and ability", a rarity in combination with his "skill and sagacity". He said that he believed that the people appreciated his "great moral leadership" and would follow him again, this time to victory.

It points out that since the fall election, many Southern Democrats had expressed reservation about a second nomination for Governor Stevenson, and Senator Lennon appeared to be the first Southern Senator to have endorsed a second run. In so doing, he had broken from the tradition of his late predecessor, Senator Willis Smith, who had only provided a guarded endorsement of the 1952 ticket and had not actively participated in the campaign. In so doing, Senator Lennon had positioned himself alongside his opponent in the spring primary, former Governor Kerr Scott. It posits that the statement may have been intended for that purpose, in case public opinion began to swing against the Eisenhower Administration.

It concludes that it was refreshing to hear a Southern Democrat support the party choice without obscuring the issue by complaining about the "loyalty oath", that is a pledge to support the party nominee.

"Indochina Aid a Double-Edged Weapon" indicates that in recommending an additional 350 million dollars in military aid for the French in Indo-China, the National Security Council had greatly strengthened the French and the loyal native regime in their campaign against the Communist guerrillas, and had taken pressure off the French domestic economy with the same stroke, enabling France to examine European problems with more clarity. The French had promised to give Indo-China a greater measure of independence, with complete independence being the eventual goal.

Since Indo-China was the keystone to security in Southeast Asia, if the Communist gained control of it, it would only be a matter of time until they were able to gain control of the entire region, with its wealth of critical raw materials and strategic position. A Communist victory might make U.S. intervention necessary, though no one within the Administration currently wanted that to occur.

French authorities had been impressed with the successful training of South Korean forces and believed that they could duplicate the feat with the loyal natives in Indo-China.

Congress had already appropriated 400 million dollars in military aid for Indo-China, and the additional 350 million would likely enable France to withdraw its troops by 1955. It suggests that when France could see an end to that burden, a greater proportion of its national income could be allocated to shoring up the defenses of Western Europe.

A piece from the Louisville Courier-Journal, titled "'Subsidies' Help Rural Sections", indicates that Senator Joseph McCarthy had demanded that the Post Office Department provide estimates of how much it was subsidizing the costs of mailing of the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the Communist Daily Worker, referring to the break provided publications on the second-class bulk postal rate. The Post, for example, among many newspapers, were urging that the Post Office charge them the entire cost of mailing. It indicates, however, that most large newspapers mailed only a small percentage of their circulation, amounting to four percent, for instance, at the Post. The Courier-Journal and the Louisville Times had a higher proportion of rural subscribers, amounting to ten percent of their total circulation. The New York Mirror, by contrast, mailed only one-tenth of one percent of its circulation. The percentage increased in farm states, such as in Iowa, with the Des Moines Register & Tribune mailing 30.3 percent of its subscriptions, the Sioux City Journal, 45.6 percent, and the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, 51.6 percent. In addition, rural weekly newspapers were distributed without charge within their own counties. The break in rates was originally authorized by Congress as a public service to rural residents.

The Senate had authorized a study of the postal rates by the Citizens Post Office Advisory Council, established the previous March, and part of its responsibilities was to establish the costs of handling each class of mail.

It indicates that if the second-class rate for publications was eventually abolished, it would only impact adversely the rural subscribers, the county weekly newspapers and the national magazines.

Drew Pearson indicates that the President had enjoyed his Denver vacation so much that he planned to spend as much time henceforth as possible away from Washington during the remainder of the year, with Congress out of session. He had several important trips scheduled for the fall and hoped to divide his time between those trips and Augusta, Ga. (He needs to quit the Presidency and join the PGA Tour. That, however, would leave things up to Dick, and so...)

The President found that being away from Washington discouraged the steady stream of callers who bogged down his schedule and who, he believed, could be handled just as well by subordinates. His doctors had also urged him to take as much time off as possible from the burdens of the Presidency. He wanted more time to concentrate on major matters, complaining often to intimates that red tape bogged down the office so much that he never had time to think.

Mr. Pearson provides a summary of major problems requiring decision, starting with the recently announced Russian detonation of its first hydrogen bomb on August 12, a surprise to scientists and upsetting American timetables, especially in light of the plans to cut the Air Force budget. The President would deliver a speech on the hydrogen bomb and its terrible destructive power, sometime during the fall, with one draft of it containing a proposal that Russia join in outlawing it, removed from subsequent drafts, however, on the basis that no agreement with Russia would be reliable.

Another issue was the potential for a recession, with the President's economic advisers indicating that the defense cutbacks had been made too suddenly and too deeply, and they, as yet, had not come up with any specific remedies other than Government spending for public works, with the President and his advisers being reluctant to track into the New Deal. Privately, the President had warned that the country would have to take its deflationary medicine.

Still another issue was the farm problem, with a 12 percent drop in farm prices while there had been an increase by 1 percent in the cost of farm supplies. One of the worst droughts in recent farm history in the Southwest had compounded the problem.

There was also the problem of the national debt limit, which Secretary of the Treasury George Humphrey had said would likely not be exceeded during the fall and early winter, though there was only 2.5 billion dollars remaining until the limit would be reached. He was counting on the receipt of six billion dollars in revenue from corporate taxes in the fall and drawing on the money which the Government maintained on deposit in banks. That would eliminate the need for calling a special session of Congress in the meantime.

The illness of Prime Minister Churchill had, for the time being, eliminated the prospect of holding a Big Four conference with Russia, which the President had not relished. The problem of the increasing drift of Western allies toward appeasement with Russia, however, had not been solved, a drift accelerated by the Russian possession of the hydrogen bomb. To try to counter that drift, the propaganda experts in Washington were planning a propaganda drive for the Eastern European satellites.

There were also other problems, such as the growing rivalry between Vice-President Nixon and Senator William Knowland, the new Majority Leader. Some of those problems, comments Mr. Pearson, had caused the President to wonder why he had ever decided to run for the office.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop indicate that it was entirely likely that Adlai Stevenson, the 1952 Democratic presidential nominee, would seek the nomination in 1956, though he had not so stated, even to close confidantes. But those around him all agreed that it was likely. He was planning a state by state and county by county tour of the country, to complement his recent round-the-world tour, and would likely write magazine articles on the state of the nation, just as he had done regarding the state of the world after his return. It was against this backdrop that the meeting of the Democrats in Chicago would be taking place, starting the following Tuesday.

They indicate that, besides enabling him to make a living and have something to do, such a trip around the nation would give him an opportunity to meet personally and become friendly with Democratic leaders in all of the important states, as well as the county chairmen. It would also give him invaluable knowledge of local political situations. He could do it without giving the fatal appearance of desperately seeking the nomination, problems which had befallen the late Wendell Willkie and Harold Stassen.

While Governor Stevenson had been abroad, he had been offered a seat on the U.N. delegation, which had subsequently been accepted by Governor James Byrnes of South Carolina, who had not supported Governor Stevenson during the 1952 election campaign. Governor Stevenson had rebuffed the offer on the grounds, as related to friends, that holding any post within the Eisenhower Administration would compromise his political position, another indicator that he was thinking of running in 1956. He had also been invited to address the Woodrow Wilson Foundation dinner on October 1, honoring former Secretary of State Acheson, but despite being an officer of the Foundation, declined, pointing out that he was making a major foreign policy speech on September 15 and did not want to make another one just two weeks later. The Alsops indicate that it was also possible that he did not wish to be too closely associated with the political negatives haunting former Secretary Acheson. Governor Stevenson had also made publicized telephone calls to former President Truman, Senate Minority Leader Lyndon Johnson, and House Minority Leader Sam Rayburn, following his return from the round-the-world trip. They suggest that it was hardly the act of someone who had no further political ambition. The calls were significant, as it had been reported that both Senator Johnson and Congressman Rayburn were opposed to a second attempt by Mr. Stevenson, instead leaning toward Senator Stuart Symington as a compromise candidate. The fact that Senator Johnson had refused to attend the Chicago welcome-home rally for Governor Stevenson had been interpreted as partial confirmation of those reports. He had, however, explained to Governor Stevenson that he would like to go but was concerned about Governor Allan Shivers of Texas, a supporter of President Eisenhower, who might seek to run against Senator Johnson in the Texas Democratic primary in 1954.

They conclude that it was much too early to venture a guess as to whether Governor Stevenson would become the nominee in 1956. They venture that if the President looked unbeatable, he might decide not to make a second attempt. It was also possible that other candidates might appear on the horizon who would be more attractive to the party. At present, however, they offer that he appeared to be the man to beat, and it was at least good that he was not withdrawing from political life, as his opposition would be intelligent and rational and, as long as he remained the party's chief spokesman, would lead the party in that direction.

Marquis Childs, in Ottawa, indicates that if the U.S. was to have a degree of protection from an atomic attack by the Russians across the top of the world, then a radar warning system had to be established somewhere to the north, in Canada. The National Security Council, with the approval of the President, had agreed to allow the public to know at least the outlines of the danger and what could be done to meet it. That might also cause pressure to mount to establish an agreement with Canada regarding mutual defense.

There had been several technical studies regarding the problem, all maintained in secret, one having been Project Lincoln at MIT, conducted for the Air Force. In a joint operation with Canada under Project Lincoln, important tests had been conducted in the late spring and early summer in the Arctic on Canada's northern boundary, the Air Force having paid 20 million dollars to conduct the tests. There was concern as to whether a radar warning system would function at such an extreme latitude against the interference of the Aurora Borealis and other natural phenomena. The Northern Lights interfered with wireless communications for days at a time during the winter months. It was estimated that it would take a year to determine the results of the tests, meaning sometime the following spring. Meanwhile, many Americans were wondering whether those decisions could wait that long, as it would take months or even years of planning and construction to build such a system after the decision to do so was made. Once done, that would afford one to two and a half hours of warning to U.S. cities.

In the past, Canadians, fearing retaliation which might impact Canada, had expressed unhappiness over the plans to have U.S. Air Force bombers flying across Canadian territory to attack Soviet targets in the event of a war. Some of that concern had been allayed by the construction of the Air Force Base at Thule in Greenland. The Defense Department was presently taking a group of newspapermen on an inspection tour of that base, which would, in addition to its primary function of serving as a launching platform for a retaliatory strike, act as a useful point from which to extend operations for the northern warning system.

Presently, a joint Canadian-American radar network was being built in what had been described as the "semi-northernly parts of Canada", the cost of which was running in the hundreds of millions of dollars, two-thirds of which was being supplied by the U.S. and the remainder by Canada, the exact amount being secret. That warning system covered only selected target areas within the U.S. and fell short of the more comprehensive net envisioned by the Lincoln Project and other such studies. Former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Omar Bradley, had warned that such a project had to be begun as quickly as possible by the two countries.

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