The Charlotte News

Friday, October 15, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Hurricane Hazel, still packing wind speeds of 100 mph, had hit eastern North Carolina this date after wreaking havoc along 120 miles of the Carolinas coastline, with no immediate reports of serious casualties among the well-warned residents of the coastal areas, most of whom had sought safer quarters, with a few minor injuries reported from falling debris. Property damage was estimated in the millions of dollars, with the heaviest damage caused by the storm surge rather than the winds. The hurricane continued to move north at about 27 mph, and the Weather Bureau had said it would gradually lose force as it moved overland across North Carolina, Virginia and into the North Atlantic states. Hurricane and gale force winds would continue for some time, especially to the north and east of the center of the hurricane, with rains being heavy over all of the states in advance of the storm. Gale force winds extended about 250 miles east and 80 miles west of the hurricane's center. All storm warnings were removed south of Wilmington, N.C. The North Carolina Highway Patrol reported that three freighters had broken loose from their moorings at Wilmington and were moving down the Cape Fear River, it being feared that they might strike highway bridges in their path. Governor William B. Umstead, from his sickbed in a Durham hospital, ordered three North Carolina National Guard units into action at the request of Wilmington's city manager. In response to an appeal by the mayor of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Governor James Byrnes ordered the Conway tank battalion to duty to prevent looting. The Miami Weather Bureau indicated that the hurricane had crossed the South Carolina coastline a short distance east of Myrtle Beach at 9:15 a.m. this date, and that heavy rains and gale to hurricane force winds would continue across North Carolina and into Virginia during the day. Winds at Myrtle Beach were estimated at between 100 and 120 mph and tides were at 9 to 11 feet above normal. At Morehead City, N.C., streets were under water and waves had lashed at the seawall protecting the hospital. A photographer for the Wilmington Star-News had reported seeing the 40-room, four-story Breakers Hotel near Carolina Beach, south of Wilmington, collapse after winds had ripped off its roof. The Star-News reported that all eight fishing piers in the Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach areas had been either washed away or badly damaged. The Wilmington Weather Bureau estimated that top wind speeds had been about 90 mph in that area. Farther north, the Atlantic had washed across big sections of the Outer Banks.

Charlotte assisted in restoring the washed-out water supply at Myrtle Beach, after help had been solicited from city officials, with a Charlotte Water Works construction crew having been accompanied by a State Highway Patrolman to the coastal resort area after reports indicated that Myrtle Beach was completely out of water.

It was reported from the Miami Weather Bureau that the hurricane had set an apparent record for the number of storm advisories, reaching 41, 15 of which had been issued by the San Juan, Puerto Rico, Weather Bureau, and 25 others by Miami, with the 41st by the Washington Weather Bureau this date. The storm had originated on October 5 off Venezuela and traveled 2,500 miles to the South Carolina coast.

The storm had dumped two inches of rain on Charlotte this date, dropping the temperature steadily during the morning, a welcome relief from the extended drought conditions.

On the editorial page, "Ike's Prestige on the Firing Line" indicates that during the ensuing two weeks before November 2, the hitherto lagging midterm election campaign would pick up pace to a crescendo, with the President's recent radio and television address having launched in earnest that push, proving that the President was, when he wanted to be, a practical politician. But the question remained whether he could bring out voters with his personal magic.

Other Presidents had appealed to the country during midterm election campaigns, only to be roundly rebuffed, most losing seats and some actually losing Congress. Woodrow Wilson, in 1918, shortly before the Armistice ending World War I on November 11, 19 months after the entry of the United States into the war in April, 1917, had made such an appeal on the basis that it was "no time either for divided council or for divided leadership", nevertheless losing both houses of Congress. In 1938, President Roosevelt had taken a different approach, expressly not asking the voters to vote for Democrats, having intervened in the Democratic primaries to oppose those members of Congress who had not backed the New Deal, intervening successfully in Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, where his backed candidates won, but backing losing Democrats in Georgia, South Carolina and Maryland.

President Eisenhower had not meddled in the primaries but was warning of the dangers of divided leadership. Yet, even normal historical erosion of Congressional membership would cost the Republicans control of both houses. The party out of power had won seats from the party in power in every midterm election in the previous 44 years, except 1934, when the Democrats had gained nine seats in the House and ten in the Senate, in the midst of the early New Deal program to end the Depression. The out-party had won control of the House in 1910, 1918, 1930 and 1946, and had won control of the Senate in 1918 and 1946. Democrats had made their greatest midterm gain in the House in 1922, winning 75 seats more than they had in 1920, and Republicans had made their greatest gain in 1946, winning 56 more seats than they had in 1944. In the Senate, the largest midterm gains had been made by the Democrats in 1910 and 1934, when they picked up ten seats, and by the Republicans in 1946, when they picked up 13 seats. Since 1920, the party in power had, on average, lost 45 House seats and four Senate seats in midterm elections.

At present, the Republicans had only a three-seat majority in the House and a two-seat majority in the Senate. Some experts believed the Republicans would take only five of the 120 House seats in the 13 Southern states, meaning that the Democrats would only need pick up 102 seats elsewhere, or about one-third of the 215 seats outside the South, to win majority control of the House.

It concludes that the Republicans were in deep trouble and were aware of it, that the President had carried 76 more Congressional districts than the Republican Party as a whole in 1952. It was the reason for the heavy in-fighting which was now beginning. The President had put his prestige on the firing line, and if the Republicans were to lose, his prestige would suffer immensely.

"Old Charlotte: 1775 and All That" indicates that organization of a Charlotte Historical Society would undoubtedly help stimulate a new awareness of Mecklenburg's romantic past, with the organization set to be launched the following Monday night at a banquet in the Hotel Barringer's Towne Room. It urges wide support for it, says that the triumphs and tragedies of Charlotte's early days provided the city a unique place in the state's history and that of the nation.

The Mecklenburg Declaration, supposedly signed on May 20, 1775—though of dubious provenance—was one claim to historical prominence of the community, but there were also others, some of which even residents of the county were unaware, attributable largely to the fact that so many residents were newcomers who had arrived in the postwar industrial expansion. It suggests that perhaps the new Historical Society would help supply the needed impetus for a greater appreciation of the city's distinguished heritage.

"No Girlies, but a Wonderful Show" advises that it was the time of year when the fall colors in the mountains were produced, which it had previewed along the Blue Ridge Parkway the previous weekend, finding the trip worth the time, "with the gold of yellow poplar and the fiery reds of the maples and sourwood" in evidence, along with the turning of the sassafras and sumac, the red maples and buckeyes, with the sycamores, hickories and poplars soon to turn, along with the "golden yellow of the redbud and black walnuts", followed by the unpredictable oaks turning any shade or hue.

It urges that if the reader could not make it to the mountains the coming weekend, the colors would still be beautiful a week hence and one of nature's most beautiful shows would be available for the seeing.

Don't need it. Just stay here and look at the Life...

A piece from the Greensboro Record, titled "Gratefully Acknowledged", indicates that the Charlotte News had, in a recent editorial, knocked Greensboro as their "cocky friend to the north" for producing "fancy figures" designed "to show how Charlotte was just a pig-path whistle stop, when compared to the Giant of Guilford," regarding statistics presented by Greensboro to the Civil Aeronautics Board in making a case for better commercial service for the Greensboro-High Point Airport, indicating that the statisticians had infringed on Forsyth County in generating those statistics, even including Wake Forest College and Salem College among its supposed educational institutions, the News having found that it was carrying things too far.

The editorial indicates that it was humbly grateful for the paternalistic advice to Greensboro, but is reminded of what was once said about an inland Southern city with metropolitan ambitions, that "if it could suck as hard as it could blow, it would have one of the finest seaports on the Atlantic Ocean."

The News editors note: "Behold the Gulf of Greensboro."

Drew Pearson indicates that the President had been so anxious to patch up the country's sagging relations with India that he had tried to persuade Paul Hoffman, former Marshall Plan administrator, to take the post as Ambassador to India. The State Department had considered asking Chester Bowles, a Democrat and former Governor of Connecticut, who had been removed as Ambassador to India, to accept the post again. It had been impossible to persuade Mr. Hoffman to return to Government service, as he was having problems with Studebaker, which he headed, and was also negotiating with Nash-Hudson, to keep small auto companies from being swallowed by the big three. State Department advisers were doubtful that Mr. Bowles would be acceptable to hard-core Republican advisers around the President, even though acceptable to the President, himself. He had been a great success while Ambassador to India, having become a close friend of Prime Minister Nehru and hailed by the Indian masses as their champion. He had been replaced at the start of the Administration, however, by career diplomat George Allen, who had now been recalled to Washington and would not return to India, expected to become assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. Mr. Pearson notes that Mr. Allen had been an excellent envoy to Yugoslavia, but that handling dictator Tito was very different from dealing with the aesthete Prime Minister Nehru, and Mr. Allen had not been a success in India.

Republic Steel Corporation, in cooperation with the White House, had pulled one of the neatest pressure politics maneuvers witnessed in the current midterm campaign. It followed in the wake of a month of a steady stream of denunciation against New Jersey Republican Senate candidate Clifford Case by the public relations counsel and former vice-president of the National Association of Manufacturers, Jim Selvage, because Mr. Case opposed Senator McCarthy. Former Congressman Fred Hartley, co-author of Taft-Hartley, and former Senator Albert Hawkes, the former president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, had also been critical of Mr. Case, causing a rift in the Republican Party in New Jersey, making it almost certain that the Democratic Congressman Charles Howell would win the race. But Mr. Selvage had suddenly clammed up, as had Mr. Hartley, and Senator Hawkes had gone on vacation, because Republic Steel, which was strong in the councils of big business and fed public relations business to the firm of Mr. Selvage, had talked to the New Jersey rebels and gotten them to desist. The maneuver had been engineered primarily by Bernard Shanley of the White House staff, who had checked with Mark Trice, secretary of the Senate, and with former Governor Walter Edge of New Jersey to see who were the chief clients of the Selvage public relations firm. James Black, a vice-president of Republic, was one of the President's best anonymous friends, and he and Charles White, head of Republic, had made the move to suppress the dissension in New Jersey among Republicans. Mr. Selvage had taken the hint and thus the disturbance had been quelled.

Mr. Pearson notes that Governor Dewey had used the idea of steel companies placing pressure on key politicians during the nominating process of General Eisenhower in 1952, when Governor John Fine of Pennsylvania had suddenly switched from Senator Taft to the General at the convention, based on influence brought to bear by U.S. Steel and Bethlehem Steel, having substantial political weight in Pennsylvania.

Marquis Childs, still in Cleveland, tells of Vice-President Nixon campaigning hard in Ohio in an effort to pick up a Senate seat for the Republicans against interim Senator Thomas Burke, proclaiming 1954 as the most prosperous peacetime year in U.S. history, contrasting it with 1952 when inflation and controls were a Democratic curse on the economy.

But the claim of Republican prosperity was not necessarily being accepted in industrial Ohio, where there was growing unemployment in the nine northern counties where industry was concentrated, and where the election might be decided with the heavy vote of organized labor. Toledo was an example, where, during the previous year, employment in 30 major manufacturing plants had dropped 30 percent, from 73,000 to 51,000, with about ten percent of the city's labor force having been unemployed for at least a year, and the level believed closer to 12 percent. One reason for the unemployment was the decline of independent automakers, with Kaiser-Willys being the largest employer in the city and many firms being suppliers of parts for other independent automakers. As purchasing power was curtailed, unemployment in the auto industry was reflected in other areas of the economy also.

Similarly, in Cincinnati, unemployment was estimated at ten percent of the workforce, with a total of 20,000 workers. The reason there was sharply curtailed orders among tool and die-makers supplying independent automakers. In Cleveland, unemployment was placed at 39,000, about six percent of the labor force.

Republican orators claimed that such figures were an inevitable adjustment from a war to a peacetime economy, which might be the case. But regardless of whether it was a "rolling adjustment", with the trend moving toward greater employment, such an explanation would not likely persuade the unemployed person whose unemployment compensation benefits were exhausted.

Mr. Childs indicates that it sounded somewhat odd to hear Mr. Nixon appeal for support for the President when he was flanked on the platform by Representative George Bender, the Republican Senate candidate, and by Senator John W. Bricker, who had sponsored the constitutional amendment to limit the treaty-making powers of the President, vigorously opposed by the Administration for it making it all but impossible for the President to carry out foreign policy, that amendment having been defeated by one Democratic vote. Senator Bricker had also opposed the St. Lawrence Seaway, which the Administration had listed as a major achievement. Mr. Bender had promised to be loyal to the President, but had a past isolationist voting record in the House, as Senator Burke had made a point of stressing, and so he would have to make a substantial change of pattern to be supportive of the President's foreign policy.

Business Week tells of the Mortgage Bankers Association annual meeting having for the first time designated a new committee on financing of racial minorities, which would make a report to the convention, largely the result of efforts of the National Urban League, which had as a goal working for better social and economic conditions for urban black residents.

The League liked to say that in dealing with black affairs, the NAACP was the "war department" and the Urban League was the "state department", explaining why the NAACP was much better known than the League, which tended to work quietly. But businessmen were much more likely to encounter the League in their personal dealings than to encounter the NAACP.

The League was a national service agency with 60 local units scattered throughout the nation, operating in 30 states, with more than 90 percent of its work involving black citizens, concentrated in three principal areas, getting more and better jobs, improving housing conditions, and amelioration of health and welfare services and community status. Whereas the NAACP relied on direct action to advance the cause of blacks, the League's tactics involved study and persuasion, utilizing as its main weapon public opinion. That somewhat peaceful aspect of the League had caused some of the principal criticism of it, that it had moved too slowly and accomplished too little, with two trustees having resigned during the previous summer and its secretary having been fired over the claim that the League's present executive director, Lester Granger, was not militant enough in his approach. Whether the criticism was warranted, and many believed it was not, the League had chosen to continue its conceptual basis from its origins in 1911, that the best way to raise the status of blacks was through broad social and welfare action, rather than through agitation.

The League spent about two million dollars per year, generated by gifts from community chests, business foundations, individuals and labor unions, with all except $275,000 being spent by the local units on local projects. Its greatest emphasis was in industrial relations, headed by Julius Thomas, who had been on the staff of the organization for 30 years, saying that they told businessmen when they thought they were wrong economically not to hire blacks and then instructed them how to do so and make it work.

The problem facing the more than 15 million blacks in the country, 68 percent of whom were in the South as of 1950, was not one of simply obtaining jobs, but rather obtaining jobs outside the traditional black work classifications, with competition extremely limited in the South, where blacks continued to be excluded from the majority of jobs in light manufacturing, skilled work on construction, and from practically all clerical and technical jobs, as well from most professional employment. In the North, blacks had more success in moving into skilled manufacturing jobs, but remained excluded from most white-collar jobs and from almost all supervisory and management positions. The League wanted to open some of those doors presently, and eventually all of them. Its eventual aim was to put itself out of business.

Mr. Thomas stated that earlier the League had taken a potshot or two at an employer who was discriminating, seeking to convince the employer that he was wrong, but now sought to move against an entire industry or a group of multiplant corporations. Through the League's commerce and industry council, a 17-person group which included, among others, Frank Folsom of RCA, William Paley of CBS, Henry Luce of Time-Life, and Robert Dowling of the City Investing Co., it had sent out invitations for corporate conferences to discuss employment practices. The previous December, for instance, it had brought together 15 multiplant corporations with a total of 50 branch plants in the South, employing more than 750,000 workers, all of the corporations having committed to work with the League toward improvement of the number and job classifications of black employees.

As policies could be made or broken at the plant level, the League's second approach was in follow-up, placing pressure at the local level to see that decisions of upper level corporate management were carried out. Once an employer determined to bring blacks into a new plant or job classification, the League worked to see that the entrance was smooth, screening out and referring applicants to the employer, though presently most of the screening was limited to technical or highly skilled positions. The League briefed management on the problems to expect and how best to avoid them.

Inevitably, the question of separate restrooms for blacks and whites would arise when blacks were initially employed in a particular part of a business, and the League provided the employer with statistics and case history material which would abate baseless talk about high rates of disease being communicable in such places.

If the job were a white-collar position and the employee was female, it would point out that a good place for her to start was in the personnel department, where everyone entering the business would see her.

If tension developed later in the process, the League would move back in to find the source of the problem. Mr. Thomas claimed to have established a degree of rapport with about 115 multiplant corporations, though in many of those, blacks thus far comprised only a small contingent of the employment force, principally in the North, despite some notable achievements in the South, in the International Harvester plants in Memphis and Louisville, with the color line otherwise still being solid in most Southern industry. For that reason, Mr. Granger labeled as "hogwash" the contention that no group in history had made the progress which blacks had within American democratic society. He said that progress was a matter of making gains fast enough to take care of the situation as it was at the present time. He regarded the question as being whether changes which had taken place in the national race picture had been fast enough and large enough to keep pace, and believed it had been "not half fast enough."

Harry Sloan, writing in the Kansas City Star, indicates that 50 years earlier, very few people in rural areas bought eyeglasses from eye doctors, few owning any eyeglasses. Those who did, bought their reading spectacles from an itinerant peddler, selecting from the peddler's case to determine which pair best suited their eyes, paying a few cents for the "specs", as they called them, with that pair usually used by both the farmer and his wife. Grandpa had such weak eyes when he became old that none of the specs he could buy from the peddler were strong enough for him to read the small print, and he remedied that problem by wearing one pair over another until he finally bought a pair of bifocals. The preacher might have a pair of reading specs while reading his sermon and would lay them on the pulpit while otherwise extemporizing.

One of the favorite stories of Prairie Town near Cameron, Mo., had been that a preacher had forgotten his specs on a Sunday and was having difficulty seeing to read, in the days before songbooks came into use in the church, with the custom being for the preacher to read a verse and the congregation then would sing the verse to the one tune used for all singing. After a few minutes of fumbling through his pockets in search of his glasses, the preacher had said: "My eyes are dim; I cannot see; I did not bring my specs with me," at which point the congregation then sang what they believed was the verse, loud and strong.

Framed Edition
[Return to Links
Page by Subject] [Return to Links-Page by Date] [Return to News<i><i><i>—</i></i></i>Framed Edition]
Links-Date Links-Subj.