The Charlotte News

Friday, January 8, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Seoul, the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission this date was determining what to do with the 22,000 non-repatriating prisoners on January 23, when the time came for them to be released, with the U.N. Command agreeing that they should be released, in accordance with the Armistice, while the Communists demanded that they be held until the time of the Korean peace conference, still not scheduled, though it had, by the terms of the Armistice, originally been scheduled to start by October 28, 90 days after the signing of the Armistice. No matter which position the Commission ultimately took, it would mean protests and possible violence, from the Communists on one side or the South Koreans on the other.

In reaction to the President's State of the Union message the previous day, Senate Minority Leader Lyndon Johnson of Texas said this date that Senate Democrats, who had a nominal 48 to 47 majority, would exercise veto power on individual items of the President's overall legislative programs, following an item by item analysis. Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia said that he would try to block an increase in the 275 billion debt limit, as the President had proposed. Senate Majority Leader William Knowland of California urged bipartisan support for the President's "sound and forward-looking program". Senator Herbert Lehman of New York said that he was gratified to note that the President had accepted and endorsed the basic objectives of the New Deal and the Fair Deal, specifically the responsibilities of government for the prosperity and welfare of individual citizens. Senator James Duff of Pennsylvania said that the recommendations made by the President showed his intention to fulfill all of his campaign commitments. Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire said he believed the program would have overwhelming support from all Republicans and all thoughtful Americans. Senator John Sherman Cooper of Kentucky said that the President was assuming the leadership, as desired by the people, and predicted enactment of most of his program. Other members of Congress had strong differences over proposed tax revisions, the Administration's announced heavier reliance on atomic weapons, the plan to take away citizenship from those convicted of conspiring to overthrow the Government by force, and a proposed Constitutional amendment to allow the vote to persons 18 and over, rather than the current age limit of 21.

The President's tax program had fallen short of satisfying those in Congress who wanted tax cuts during 1954, with nearly all the members of the House Ways & Means Committee, where all tax bills originated, calling for more and larger reductions than proposed by the President. Speaker of the House Joseph Martin conceded that among the proposals made in the speech, the tax program probably would be the toughest to enact.

Former President Truman, defending his efforts to combat Communist subversion, said this date, in an interview with Drew Pearson for television, that he had never used the words "red herring" to describe the HUAC hearings into Communist subversion in August, 1948, as reported at the time by the press. The incident had occurred at a White House press conference of August 5, the day that Alger Hiss swore before HUAC that he had never been a member of the Communist Party. The former President said that a young man who had never previously attended a press conference had asked him whether the Committee's activities were not a red herring to cover up what the Republicans in the 80th Congress had not done, and the President had responded that it might be the case. It had then been reported that President Truman had called the hearings a red herring. The story quotes from the unofficial transcript of the press conference, tending to confirm what the former President had stated, though he then had said affirmatively that the investigations constituted a red herring to keep the Congress from doing what it ought to do.

In Kansas City, a former police lieutenant of St. Louis, who had captured the kidnapers and murderers of six-year old Bobby Greenlease the prior October 6, pleaded not guilty this date in Federal District Court to a charge of perjury in connection with his account of what had occurred with the $600,000 in ransom money in the case, only half of which had been recovered from one of the two kidnapers, both of whom had been executed for the crimes on December 18 after pleading guilty. The male of the couple had insisted that he had approximately $592,000 with him when he was arrested by two officers, both of whom testified before a Federal grand jury which had indicted the couple that they had carried suitcases containing the ransom money to a St. Louis police station along with the male of the couple and that they did not know what had happened to the missing money. Other witnesses, however, said that they had not seen the suitcases brought into the police station.

Ann Sawyer of The News indicates that Alonzo Squires, former head of the local Moose Club, had testified this date in the preliminary hearing regarding the charges against Charlotte Police Chief Frank Littlejohn, that the club had protected its gambling operations by taking care of the Chief with three separate Christmas gifts, quoting the Chief as having confirmed that point. Mr. Squires indicated that it was not discussed whether the gifts were designed to keep the Chief from doing his duty regarding the illegal gambling, a source of easy revenue for the fraternal organization. The presiding judge had expressed indignation that Mr. Squires and other members of the club had stood by while laws were violated, and asked him why they, as good law-abiding citizens, had not purified their own household without calling on the Chief or some other officer to do it, to which Mr. Squires answered that the judge had a good point. Chief Littlejohn was a member of the Moose Club. Mr. Squires said that the club had decided to present to him, at the request of the Chief's wife, a $500 clock, so that the Chief could take care of them in regard to the gambling operations. They had given him the following year an expensive candelabra, worth $200-$300. The next year, they presented him only with a hat, because gambling had reached a low ebb. Mr. Squires said that no one in the club expressly contacted the Chief about overlooking gambling, but that hints were made by the Chief and they acted accordingly, the Chief repeatedly saying that he assumed that they would take care of him at Christmas. A presentation of verbatim questions and answers by Mr. Squires is included.

Incidentally, Mr. Squires, who was congenitally blind, had appeared on the "Fred Allen Show" in November, 1941, (starting at the 27:45 mark), while a law student at UNC, selected in a talent contest for the show, where he performed several impressions, though not performing his impression of FDR, which he had done for the President in 1940, at the President's request for a March of Dimes fundraiser. He subsequently, in 1964, returned to UNC to receive his master's degree, having dropped out of law school for a career in radio in 1942, and then became the head of the UNC parking bureau, where he remained for several years, into the 1970's.

Donald MacDonald of The News indicates that former nightclub operator Frank Ratcliffe, who had voluntarily returned to Charlotte from Georgia to answer charges that he had violated the state's gambling laws, waited patiently outside the courtroom, accused of three misdemeanors involving alleged gambling at his nightclub which had closed nearly three years earlier. He had been one of two witnesses sought for the hearing, the other having been a former Moose Club official, also charged the previous day with illegal gambling when the two failed to appear as witnesses. Other testimony provided this date had come from a detective who testified about his work in the Boar's Head bombing case, which had won him an award for being detective of the year in 1949, awarded by CBS and radio station WBT, given annually as a promotion for the "Mr. and Mrs. North" radio program, an award recommended by Chief Littlejohn, who had been pleased with the detective's work in handling the investigation of the bombing.

A piece indicates that only once during the proceedings had Chief Littlejohn's counsel objected to propounded questions or responses, despite the testimony having ventured far from the subject at hand, the attorneys explaining that because the Chief was a public servant, they had adopted a policy of not objecting because they wanted the "searchlight to be turned on him from the beginning of his career as an officer down to the present moment", and that he was willing for anyone who had any complaint against him to state it in the open and let it be appraised by the people. They did not wish to appear to suppress any evidence.

In Paris, Tenn., the annual "Mule Day" celebration had been held for a century, with gala affairs in which governors had not been ashamed to pose cheek to jowl with a pair of matched gray mules or to kiss an astonished beauty on its velvety nose. But times had changed and mules were now scarce, with farmers switching to tractors, and so the Chamber of Commerce had abandoned the festival, announcing plans for a new spring celebration, yet unnamed, to be climaxed by "the world's biggest fish fry".

On the editorial page, "The State of the Union" indicates that the President's message to Congress the previous day had reinforced the opinion that he planned to stick to the middle way in his program, giving a nod more frequently to Democrats than to some of the conservatives in his own party. He favored continuation of Federal participation in housing, slum clearance, public conservation projects, including those involving production of water power, wherever those projects were beyond the capacity of local initiative. He also favored sharing of atomic secrets with allies, limited to exchange of data on "tactical use of nuclear weapons". He favored U.S. participation, along with Canada, in completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway. He also wanted to hold off on cuts to corporate and excise taxes until adequate budget reduction could be accomplished.

It indicates that he had not set forth his views on many major issues, instead relegating those to special reports which he would communicate to Congress later during the month, including his labor and agriculture programs, as well as his health program, and specific tax changes. A special message on housing would come later in the month also, along with an economic report.

It finds two regrettable omissions in the speech, that he did not renew the request made the previous year for review of the nation's discriminatory immigration laws, and while he had again advocated statehood for Hawaii, he had not mentioned Alaska. He had made one new proposal, suggesting that citizenship should be stripped from anyone convicted in the future of conspiring to advocate the violent overthrow of the Government, something the piece regards, along with Attorney General Herbert Brownell's proposal to allow wiretap evidence in espionage cases and immunity to witnesses who might otherwise take the Fifth Amendment, to be "locking—and cluttering up—the barn after the horse is stolen"—not to mention, as James Marlow's column points out, that it would be unconstitutional to deprive natural born citizens of citizenship. It finds that if a sometimes lax Democratic Administration had been able to prevent the nation from being subverted during the period of greatest danger, the new Administration, using the tools at hand, ought be able to control internal subversion now that the greatest danger was long past. There were laws, as the President had pointed out in the field of agriculture, which were no longer useful and which hampered the Government. The same was true, it finds, with regard to laws dealing with past attempts at subversion, which could produce more red tape than the Communists.

It agrees with the President when he had said that one of the most significant changes during the previous year had been in the fact that the free world, led by the United States, had gained the initiative in the struggle against Communism.

It asserts that there were two other changes which were significant, though he had not emphasized them, that the President and Secretary of State Dulles were placing most of their emphasis on the European Defense Community unified army, whereas President Truman and Secretary of State Acheson had placed more emphasis on NATO as a whole, thus the current Administration emphasizing more European community than Atlantic unity, a policy, it indicates, which could lead to serious rifts between the U.S. and Europe. It also appeared that a basic strategic change had been determined regarding atomic weaponry and attack of previously considered "privileged sanctuaries" in the event of any new smaller wars, such as Korea. That suggested that any new aggressor would not be eager to start another war, but that if one did start, it would be more likely to become a full-scale war.

"When Curbed Spaces Go, Then What?" indicates that the most significant thing about the city traffic engineer's program for 1954 was that the gradual elimination of curbside parking would be sped up considerably to make additional lanes available for moving traffic. It provides the traffic engineer's plans in detail, but says that Charlotte was the only major city of which it was aware that was blind to the need for permanent offstreet parking. One parking garage had been constructed by a private operator during the previous year, but it did not replace the parking spaces eliminated when another older garage across the street had been converted into an office building. Otherwise, the only offstreet parking facilities were vacant lots, leased to private operators until a more profitable use was found for the land.

It points out that in the December issue of Architectural Forum, multi-million-dollar parking programs in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and other cities had been described, involving garages which were publicly financed. It finds that the Charlotte City Council had shied away from any realistic attempt since the end of World War II to deal with the situation, which would ultimately diminish the value of downtown properties and cause decentralization of the business district because of traffic congestion.

"Progress" indicates that in Illinois, between 6,000 and 8,000 books which had once been withdrawn from state libraries as being "salacious, vulgar or obscene" had been restored by order of that state's secretary of state, who said that librarians had been "overzealous" in carrying out his order.

It suggests that if he had expected the librarians to be otherwise, he was naïve, as every effort in history to ban or to limit the circulation of books, no matter how proper the motives, had been seized upon by zealots as an excuse for the wholesale decimation of libraries, indicating that the original order had been ill advised, but that at least the damage appeared to have been undone.

"Too Much of a Good Thing" indicates that it was the season of receiving free calendars, but that there were too many of them, though some of them were nice to look at. The latest innovation was the day book for the desk. It had received so many calendars, for every conceivable location, that it asks whether anyone wanted spares for 1954.

Clifton Fadiman, who had originally been a book reviewer for the New Yorker and also formerly editor-in-chief for Simon and Schuster, and had become well known on the program "Information Please", now the host of "This Is Show Business", discusses college football, relating that a generous Texas oilman had given his university 2.25 million dollars, saying that the great spirit and determination shown by the Houston Cougars the previous Saturday in defeating Baylor had filled him with enthusiasm and prompted him to do something for the University of Houston. Mr. Fadiman suggests, therefore, that each of the 11 members of the football team had earned more than $204,000 for their university, or about $3,400 per minute of playing time. He indicates that the motives of the oilman might be criticized by some, but not by Mr. Fadiman, because the endowment for the prowess on the football field had communicated an honest sense of reality.

He suggests that a long time earlier, colleges had devoted themselves to the study of divinity and a few dead languages because Americans wanted them to do so, but that then Americans had stopped wanting those pursuits, and so the colleges had changed and begun to emphasize the sciences and various techniques for earning a living, whereas at present many students, trustees and alumni wanted colleges to devote themselves to football.

He quotes the former All-American back Aubrey Devine as having said that education was not their primary objective but rather a means to an end, that the boys had loved football so much that they would sacrifice for it even to the extent of acquiring a college education. Mr. Fadiman, however, wonders why there should be such a sacrifice, running counter to every instinct of fair play.

He proposes that each college, taking account of those desires, label itself for what it was so that all could understand it. Harvard, for example, would be Harvard E, standing for Education, attracting its own type of student, while another college, having the courage to move forward into the new era as "Siwash F", standing for Football, would have a minimum curriculum, preferably on a high school level, leaving time for the students to pursue their real work, with degrees granted for B.F., and a doctorate denoted by D.F.

"It is a dismal fact that though college football no longer needs any defense, the football college, as these words show, still does. It's time for a change.

"There's the whistle—let's go!"

Drew Pearson, as stated on the front page this date, indicates that he had met with former President Truman in Kansas City recently and had a pleasant talk with him. He had interviewed him for a television program to be aired this week, and wanted to discuss with him his record in combating Communism and his famous remark about HUAC's investigations of Communists in the Government being a "red herring". He indicates that since the interview, most people had been more interested in the personal side of the visit, apparently remembering the differences the two had over Maj. General Harry Vaughan, the former President's military aide, of whom Mr. Pearson had been highly critical for receiving a medal from El Presidente Juan Peron of Argentina, the President eventually referring at a dinner to Mr. Pearson as an "s.o.b" for his critical remarks about the General. Mr. Pearson indicates that the matter had come up only in an indirect way. He says that the former President had a modest office in the Federal Reserve Bank, at which he arrived every morning just as early as he had while President. Though 69, he appeared in perfect health, younger and more rested than he had been while in the White House. Around his office there were many books, mainly about history, about which he said that he was trying to write. He said he received about 1,000 letters per day and did his best to answer them, but that his present job was writing his memoirs, on which he tried to put forth about 10,000 words per day. He said that his research staff would arrive each day and he would dictate from memory his recollection of events, and then the staff would check his memory against dates and the written record, that one volume was almost finished. He said that he sometimes wished he had not undertaken to write the memoirs, as by the time he finished paying taxes, there would be no profit from them. He added, however, that he wanted to do it for history, as he had gone through some important and tumultuous years and believed it was his duty to record them. After the memoirs were finished, he said he wanted to lecture at colleges about the duties and obligations of citizenship, imparting to young people what a great country it was and the obligation they had to keep it that way.

He said that Roy Roberts of the Kansas City Star had featured Mr. Pearson's work whenever he had written anything mean about the President, but had completely omitted his column from the newspaper whenever he had been nice to him, an example of what he believed was wrong with newspapers, being too one-sided. He said that Mr. Roberts had blamed him for indicting him, but that in fact he had not known about it until well after the Justice Department had begun the case.

Mr. Truman had no criticism for President Eisenhower, though he discussed some of the major problems facing him, regarded his biggest problem to be selling the American people on a policy. He said that they had to be led, that it was not a matter of finding out what Americans wanted and then trying to please them, as there were too many opinions, requiring the President to mold that opinion and then lead it forward. He regarded that as the biggest challenge to any President and one which he could not escape.

He said that he had always been glad to have helped to bring former President Hoover back into the public eye, that he believed it had been a shame as to how the country had treated him after his Presidency. He pointed out that he had appointed Mr. Hoover to head a commission to study Europe's food needs after the war and later appointed him and Dean Acheson as joint heads of the commission to study reorganization of the Government, finding that they had done a very good job and that he had been able to get most of their recommendations approved by Congress. When Mr. Pearson remarked that he recalled that Mr. Hoover had once made an off-the-record speech at the Gridiron Club highly praising Mr. Truman, the latter said he remembered it, and added that at the Republican convention in 1948, the Republicans had asked Mr. Hoover to make the keynote address, wanting him to smear Mr. Truman, and that when he had refused, they obtained another speaker, a matter of which Mr. Hoover, himself, had informed Mr. Truman.

Frederick C. Othman tells of the Government preparing to get out of the hotel business in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, specifically Bluebeard's Castle Hotel, built in the 1930's by the Interior Department under the direction of the late former Secretary Harold Ickes, on a promontory overlooking the town where there was an ancient stone tower with walls nearly six feet thick, reputedly built by Bluebeard.

One of Mr. Othman's reporter friends had gone to stay at the castle after it had been finished and had regarded it as a Caribbean boondoggle, luxurious, though one could not take a bath because there was no boiler to heat the water, or even hang up clothes for the absence of closets. When Mr. Othman had heard about it, he published a piece, which caused Mr. Ickes, the "old curmudgeon", to respond, calling it a lie. As a result, Mr. Othman took his own vacation at the hotel, and found it still to be absent hot water and closets, though the manager had installed electric heaters to make the water lukewarm at times and had strung drapes across a corner of each room to make a closet. When he wrote a second piece chronicling his own experience, Mr. Ickes had not responded.

Since that time, the hotel had been leased to a succession of operators, all of whom had suffered complaints about the lack of hot water and closets. But the hotel had established the islands as a result, and in recent years, a number of hotels had been built there, suggesting that the castle had been a good investment, after all.

Secretary of Interior Douglas McKay, however, had decided to sell it and Mr. Othman indicates that it pleased him as a taxpayer for the Government to be getting out of the hotel business, suggests that the new owners might find a way to keep the water hot.

James Marlow indicates that the President was in the middle of a fight for the program he had set forth the previous day in his State of the Union message to Congress, on which he would stake his success and that of his party for the midterm elections. He had said on December 2 that the Republicans did not deserve to retain control of Congress unless they were able to put through a "progressive, dynamic program". Applause had interrupted the President 45 times during the 54-minute address, and afterward, leaders of his party expressed the usual and expected praise

A small number dismissed it as a "hodge-podge" full of "platitudes", but the opposition expressed even by members of the Republican Party on some major points of the program gave the President notice that he would have to assert leadership to get it passed. The previous year, the President had been engaged in learning the job and preparing the program which he had just adduced, and so probably felt that he had to compromise on many issues, as he needed Democratic help to get any of his program passed. But during the current year, if he were to compromise when the opposition was not strong enough to defeat him, then he could be accused of abdicating leadership for the sake of being liked.

The previous night, he was reported to be busy in the White House trying to work out a compromise on the proposal of Senator John W. Bricker to limit the treaty-making power with a Constitutional amendment, applying the ratification requirement to executive agreements as well as to treaties. It was debatable whether Senator Bricker had enough support to put across his amendment, and so it was not necessarily the case that the President had to compromise. Two other examples of the struggle facing the President in dealing with members of his own party had to do with farm policy and taxes. Speaker of the House Joseph Martin had said that he expected the tax program, asking for postponement of scheduled tax reduction, was where there would be the greatest difficulty in passage, predicting, however, that a good part of the President's program would pass. But the President's proposed flexible price supports for farmers instead of current fixed supports, to take effect only in the next crop year, would run into a great deal of trouble.

The President had received his greatest applause from both Democrats and Republicans when he proposed that Communists convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the Government should be deprived of citizenship, but it was not clear how the President intended that program to be carried out, in light of the Fourteenth Amendment declaring that all persons born in the United States were citizens, with several members of Congress pointing out that substantial roadblock.

A letter writer responds to a previous letter about whiskey and who was to blame for it, says that she was certain that there may have been church members who had voted for the ABC stores, but that they had not been Christians, as no true Christian would have so voted. She indicates that no matter where whiskey was, if a person wanted it, they would find it, and if parents served it and drank it, and their children had cocktail parties, then it was clear who had the blame, that no Christian parents would do so.

A letter writer indicates that before there were safety patrols, many children had been getting hurt, playing dangerously in the streets and roads, and that now that there were safety patrols, the children were not running and playing in the streets, but obeyed the safety patrol and learned the rules of being safe and playing safe, thinks that there should be more safety patrols in city and county schools.

We were on the safety patrol in the sixth grade, unfolded the flag and raised it each morning, lowered the flag and refolded it each afternoon, with the help of our friends. And we never, as did those idiots who, in perversely inverted imagery of song and story, stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, fell through a hole in the flag.

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