The Charlotte News

Tuesday, October 19, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports from Wilmington, N.C., that Army engineers from Fort Bragg had begun moving into the Wilmington and Myrtle Beach, S.C., areas this date to assist the beach resorts which had been struck by Hurricane Hazel, with the troops sent to help clear away the debris and assist the communities in restoring water and sewage distribution systems. The secretary to North Carolina Governor William B. Umstead said that National Guard troops might be moved into the Washington, N.C., area to prevent looting. The Beaufort County, N.C., sheriff reported that some of the damaged cottages along the Pamlico River were being looted. The president of the Carolina Power & Light Co. said that the hurricane had disrupted service to at least 250,000 homes, but that about 95 percent of service had been restored. The State Insurance commissioner acted to expedite the clearing of insurance claims arising from the hurricane damage, which would run into the millions of dollars. The Wilmington News reported that rehabilitation of the coastal area was proceeding smoothly, that the entire community was coming together into a "mass rehabilitation committee" and that much of the clean-up was being done on a "good neighbor" basis. In Myrtle Beach, two supervising committees met this date to begin clean-up operations, including mayors and other leading officials of the stricken communities, planning details of providing Federal aid to the operations at the beach resorts.

The Federal Trade Commission this date accused 17 insurance companies which wrote health, hospital and accident policies of "false and misleading advertising", the companies representing an annual premium payment of more than 300 million dollars, about one-third of the total health and accident policies written on individuals in the country. Each firm was charged with from 3 to 5 allegedly deceptive practices and each was provided 20 days to file responses, with individual hearings before the Commission to be held in December. If the FTC were to find that the charges were sustained, it could issue orders forbidding the practices in the future. The FTC chairman said that the action was aimed at false or deceptive advertising claims concerning the extent of insurance protections and benefits payable. He said that numerous letters from policyholders who had complained that the insurance coverage they received was not the same as advertised had prompted the inquiry.

Samuel Lubell, in another of a series of reports on the midterm election campaign, indicates that one striking fact had impressed him during the eight weeks he had been sampling voters, primarily in the Midwest, that being the difference in the way people voted for Congress from that in which they voted for the presidency. He suggests that the pattern was so different that any President who undertook to make a Congressional election a referendum on his Administration, as President Eisenhower had done in 1954, was "like taking a high-speed, eight-cylinder car off the main highway onto rutted, muddy roads, along which one is bound to get detoured or even lost." Many people personalized nearly everything which happened in terms of being for or against the man in the White House, some even blaming the President for such things as a bad stomach or a wave of local bank robberies. But in discussing their voting preference for Congress, relatively few persons expressed considered judgments on the candidates. He cites one Minneapolis housewife who had shown him a stack of newspaper clippings, explaining that a few days before the election, she and her husband studied the candidates, but adding that everything one read was so biased, it was hard to know what to do. An Ohio worker had developed a formula whereby he watched for the candidates who insisted how honest they were and then voted against them. Most voters admitted that they were ashamed to say so, but they did not know who was running. The fact that people knew so little about Congressional candidates appeared to generate two somewhat conflicting voting habits, with the majority of voters simply voting by party label, while others, perhaps in revolt against party voting, voted for the candidate whom they believed they knew better than the other. One voter had said that a particular candidate had given him a shopping bag and so he would vote for him. Another person said that a particular candidate had sent him a questionnaire which asked his opinion on the farm bill, and others said that they had shaken hands with the candidate at the American Legion meeting, or had written the candidate a letter once and he had answered very nicely, etc., all determining factors in their final choice. It thus appeared to take only a small amount of contact by Congressional candidates to convince people to vote for them. The incumbent member of Congress usually would be better known in the district than the rival, and while in office, the Congressman had many opportunities to do favors for constituents or to battle publicly for economic interests representative of the district, and through such personal contact and favors, attracted voters.

In Cleveland, O., the second day of the first-degree murder trial of Dr. Samuel Sheppard, accused of killing his wife, Marilyn, the prior July 4, proceeded with further jury selection, after only one juror had been seated the previous day. Defense counsel renewed the motion for a change of venue based on adverse publicity in the Cleveland area, contending that the airing the previous night by Cleveland radio station WHK of a debate between two Cleveland newspapermen on the handling of the case in the newspapers had contributed further to an unfavorable public attitude toward Dr. Sheppard, the court denying the motion while continuing to hold in abeyance the general motion for a change of venue until after jury selection was complete, which the judge said would determine whether a fair jury could be found within Cleveland. One of the two attorneys for the defendant had asked the first juror selected whether the young osteopath's alleged affair with a pretty hospital technician would have any bearing on his judgment in the case, and during this date's voir dire, had asked another potential juror whether testimony in the trial, if it divulged that Dr. Sheppard might have had affairs with some women other than his wife, would influence her in carrying out her duties, prompting objection from the prosecution, sustained by the trial judge. That woman had been eventually accepted by both sides as the second seated juror. Both of the seated jurors were identified by name in the story. It indicates that the State had taken less than 30 minutes to accept the second juror, while the defense required about 90 minutes of examination before finding her acceptable. The defense had announced that Dr. Sheppard would take the stand in his own defense, but in questioning the latter juror about whether she would require proof from the defendant before finding him not guilty, the defense attorney left open the possibility of a change in that strategy.

In Sparta, N.C., the 63-year old Sheriff of Allegheny County had been shot and killed this date at the home of a farmer he was trying to arrest, after the farmer fired a shotgun at him from six feet away. The farmer was charged with first-degree murder, and had fled his home immediately after the shooting, was believed to have switched from his pickup truck to a high-powered car parked nearby. A large posse was formed during the morning to search for him, believed headed toward Virginia. The sheriff had been trying to arrest the farmer for failing to appear on a traffic citation. The farmer had been arrested at least a dozen times previously, principally for violations of motor vehicle laws.

In Raleigh, a freshman at N.C. State, on duty as a night clerk in a motor court, had been held up, kidnaped and then shot five times by a bandit the previous night, leaving him in critical condition in the hospital. The robber had gotten away with about $50 after forcing the victim to drive him, in the victim's car, to a point near the county line between Pitt and Chatham Counties, where the robber then shot the victim five times, twice in the hip, twice in the stomach and once in the chest, before the victim had escaped in the car while the robber was reloading his gun, calling law enforcement from a nearby farmhouse. A suspect had been arrested.

From Tokyo, it was reported that the mountain community of Yamato had just concluded its 1,047th observance of the "Mountain Moonshine Sake Festival", which opened each year with the "sacrifice" of a bottle of newly made moonshine, after which it was traditional for the participants to become thoroughly drunk. Tax collectors turned their backs during the festival, but then promptly showed up to tax the unconsumed sake, though there was not much left after the festival.

In Chicago during the weekend, thieves had stolen furs and coats worth an estimated $250,000 from a Loop office, the thieves breaking into a vault which held the expensive merchandise, most of it mink. In a separate incident, at a South Side apartment, a collection of stamps valued at $100,000 was taken from a private collection, the victim indicating to police that the thieves had left behind many stamps of lesser value and had ignored his wife's jewelry. In a third incident, a woman reported that a thief had broken into her station wagon and taken ten of her personal paintings, on which she declined to place a monetary value.

In Charlotte, the City traffic engineer announced this date that there would be immediate installation of signs warning motorists of electrical timing devices to gauge the speed of motor vehicles inside the city, to be placed at 24 different locations. The devices had been used by the traffic engineering department for some time to collect traffic engineering data, and whenever the device detected speed violations, they were reported to the Police Department. A recent survey showed that 60 percent of the traffic on one stretch of road was moving in excess of the 35 mph speed limit, proceeding at an average of 37.4 mph.

Donald MacDonald of The News indicates that there were some mad and embarrassed members of the Charlotte Police Department, after someone had broken into the Police Clubhouse at Morris Field the previous night and stolen approximately $25 to $30 from vending machines. The thief had opened the window in a room formerly used as a restroom, ripped the coin-changer from a wall and rifled through it, ripped the front from a cigarette machine and took the change plus several packs of cigarettes, and then had broken open a jukebox as well as a soft drink machine. Several weeks earlier, during a police school held at the clubhouse, the training officer had held a mock break-in to provide rookie officers a chance to solve it. That practice break-in had been effected through a restroom window, looting the vending machines, causing laughter among the police officers because of the similarities with the actual incident.

On the editorial page, "Walter Mitty with a Baedeker" indicates that Utah Congressman Douglas Stringfellow, after having convinced those who would listen of his supposed heroic exploits during World War II, had finally admitted that he was never an OSS agent, had not participated in any secret mission behind enemy lines for the Government, and had never captured Otto Hahn or any other German physicist.

The myth had begun with the Congressman telling a small lie and everyone seeming so interested in it that the lie had grown until it finally became his trap. Before he realized it, he was being introduced to audiences throughout Utah as a cloak and dagger operative with hair-raising exploits to impart. After the Army Times had questioned his story, Mr. Stringfellow finally admitted the truth on television and radio, and the Utah state Republican committee had voted the previous night to accept his resignation as a candidate for re-election. He had parlayed his tale into national fame and a seat in Congress two years earlier.

Though he had never seen actual combat during the war, he had been critically wounded by an exploding land mine which knocked him out of combat, with his unit then going on to incur heavy casualties in two battles in late 1944 and early 1945 in France and Germany.

It suggests that all over the country, thousands of former G.I.'s would be peering into the mirror and seeing Congressman Stringfellow or Walter Mitty, as many of the exploits about which people had heard from the war appeared to be getting increasingly bold every year, the results of myths and legends. Meanwhile, Mr. Stringfellow might find it difficult to recapture the confidence of the public.

It indicates that Diogenes Laertius had told of Aristotle once being asked what those who told lies gained by it, responding, "That when they speak the truth they are not believed."

"Employment Down, Bank Robbery Up" indicates that bank robbers were active during the year in North Carolina, even though being caught by the FBI on a regular basis. Thus far during the year, there had been eight robberies of banks within the state, including one unsuccessful attempt, with nine such bank robberies having occurred during a 19-month period. Only two in that same time frame had occurred in South Carolina.

It indicates that an FBI summary partially explained the disparity between the two states, indicating that such robberies were on the rise throughout the nation, with 103 having occurred in fiscal year 1951, 128 in 1952, 215 in 1953, and 271 thus far in 1954. Bank robberies in North Carolina had increased commensurately, with one having occurred in 1951, two in 1952, four in 1953, plus the eight thus far in 1954. Law enforcement suggested two reasons for the rash of robberies, that many small-town banks did not have adequate safety devices, and, as related in U.S. News & World Report, there was direct correlation between bank robberies and unemployment. During the 1920's, hold-ups averaged 150 per year, while in the Depression of the 1930's, hold-ups reached an all-time high of 532, then reaching an all-time low during the high employment period of World War II. Now, with unemployment rising, so were hold-ups.

It finds therefore that before the midterm elections, robberies would probably be blamed on the Republicans.

"Good for Everyone Except Bookkeepers" urges use of the payroll participation plan for contribution to the United Appeal, enabling employees to give more without feeling the pinch, with a few dimes perhaps deducted from their paychecks weekly, while involving no cost to employers once the plan was initially established. Gifts from groups using the payroll deduction plan were about triple the amount of gifts from comparable groups not using it. Employers and employees thus made it easier on themselves by use of the plan.

"The Man Who Refused To Concede" quotes from the former boss of Memphis, E. H. Crump, who had just died of a heart condition at age 80 the prior Saturday, having said in 1948 that there were 27 pictures of Judas Iscariot in the art galleries of Paris, none of which appeared alike, but that all resembled Gordon Browning, the opposition candidate in the gubernatorial race, "that neither his head, heart nor hand can be trusted; that he would milk his neighbors cow through a crack in the fence; that, of the 206 bones in his body, there isn't one that is genuine; that his heart has beaten over two billion times without a single sincere beat." It was a typical remark by Mr. Crump in the heat of a political war. He had not been a lovable man, but from 1932 to 1948, had dominated Tennessee politics. Even after 1948, he had maintained a tight grip on Shelby County and had political allies all over the state.

In Southern Politics, by V. O. Key, Jr., he had been described as "a canny old fox … (whose) age offered far more hope to the opposition than his loss of a campaign."

It indicates that though he was gone, the Memphis machine he ran would continue to be a model for "organization politics", the only thing in its favor having been that it did not steal from the public till, and the only thing positive to be said about Mr. Crump being that he was the last of the big city political bosses—not foreseeing Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley, who would begin his 21-year reign as Mayor the following April, or, though not the product of big-city machines, but planned with equal Machiavellian intent, the Southern single-issue political machines which would arise in a new era of demagoguery during the mid to late 1950's and into the 1970's to exploit the anti-integration voters, such as that of George Wallace in Alabama.

It indicates that to the end, Mr. Crump had refused to concede.

A piece from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, titled "Roll out the Drum", indicates that empty oil barrels were all the rage as drums in the West Indies, finding it odd, while other odd things had happened in terms of drums. Washboards had been used as drums by some jazz bands for many years, and a woman had informed the writer that a drum she had picked up recently for a neighbor's child was made from pieces of old inner tubes laced together. A child could inform that a picket fence and a stick could also serve as a substitute for percussion, as could a pencil tapped on a school desk, or goat hide rubbed with rum and raw egg, as the Haitians made their drumheads. Anything at hand could be used to beat a paradiddle, a single drag or a flamacue, or any other drum beat.

Drew Pearson presents more regarding the investigation by the Senate Internal Security Committee, chaired by Senator William Jenner of Indiana, of the diary of former Secretary of the Treasury under FDR, Henry Morgenthau, as the column had begun imparting the previous day. The investigators for the Committee were looking for subversive links between members of the Roosevelt Administration and the late Harry Dexter White, whom Attorney General Herbert Brownell had charged a year earlier with being a Russian spy and being maintained in the employ of the Treasury Department after the Administration had facts at its disposal which should have revealed that fact. Mr. Pearson had obtained some of the reports made by the two investigators searching the Morgenthau files, with the former Secretary's permission, housed at the Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, N.Y.

One thing which the investigators had found was that Mr. White had proposed a ten billion dollar loan to Russia toward the end of the war and that Secretary Morgenthau had pushed that loan in talks with President Roosevelt, though the fact had been known at the time. They had also found that Mr. Morgenthauth was urging that the U.S. work closely with Russia for peacetime reconstruction, also known at the time.

Mr. Pearson presents the full text of one of the reports made by the investigators to the Committee, regarding the loan proposal to Russia, as well as a statement of one of the investigators, which Mr. Pearson had revealed the previous day, that he had gone through 14 volumes of the diary and had been held up by documents on British and French lend-lease, on which Mr. White was in charge of negotiations, that though he had hoped to find something of interest for the Committee, had found very little. He had also related that he believed that the sooner he and the other investigator would leave the Roosevelt Library, the better the archivist of the Library would like it.

Joseph Alsop, in Madison, Wisc., indicates that both Democratic and Republican leaders in Wisconsin were wondering whether the state would turn out to be another Maine, where Congressman Edmund Muskie had surprisingly won the gubernatorial race over the incumbent Governor Burton Cross. Incumbent Republican Wisconsin Governor Walter Kohler was much more popular than had been Governor Cross, which was all the more reason why it was surprising that Republicans in Wisconsin were dubious and worried, while Democrats were cautiously hopeful. Only two years earlier, Governor Kohler had trounced his present opponent, future Senator William Proxmire, by a majority of 400,000 among a total vote of about 1.6 million. The President had carried the state in 1952 by only a slightly narrower margin and all of the Republican Congressmen had done well, with only Senator McCarthy having made a poor showing, with a majority of more than 250,000 votes less than Governor Kohler, which indicated that the Senator had benefited from the coattails of both General Eisenhower and the Governor.

As Senator McCarthy did not figure in this year's Wisconsin campaign, it appeared unlikely that there would be any possibility of an upset, but no one on either side was seeing it that way.

The Wisconsin Agriculturalist poll showed heavy Republican erosion in the farm vote, which totaled about 400,000 in Wisconsin. Whereas in 1952, the farmers had voted for Governor Kohler and for General Eisenhower in a proportion of 3 to 1, in 1954, a substantial majority of those responding to the poll thought a Democratic Congress would be better for the farmers than one controlled by Republicans. Of the farmers polled, 55 percent planned to vote for Governor Kohler and 43 percent for Mr. Proxmire, with 2 percent undecided.

The President's personal popularity did not appear to rub off on local candidates and Governor Kohler was suffering from the unpopularity of Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson's farm program, though the Governor had nothing to do with it. The farm defection in Wisconsin, because it was primarily a dairy state, was to a great degree a local phenomenon, but nevertheless important when taken in conjunction with the same trend in Milwaukee and other Wisconsin industrial centers, where, while unemployment remained low in Milwaukee, having about a quarter of the total votes, there was serious joblessness in Racine, Kenosha and other Wisconsin cities. There was also a loss of overtime everywhere, and for those reasons working people appeared apprehensive and disillusioned. In 1952, the Republicans had made inroads to the Democratic majorities normally accumulated among the industrial and lower middle income groups in Wisconsin, but now working people, despite still liking the President, were returning en masse to their former Democratic voting pattern.

Mr. Alsop indicates that there were no polls or other solid evidence to prove that trend, but the wiser Republican leaders in such places as Milwaukee frankly admitted that it existed, translating to possibly large Democratic majorities in Wisconsin urban areas which, combined with the widespread farm defections from the Republicans, could give the Democrats a substantial victory. Even Governor Kohler was in danger, though members of both parties believed he would be re-elected, albeit by a reduced majority.

The Democrats were confident they would keep the district won by Representative Lester Johnson from the Republicans in a 1953 special election, and there was also a threat to Republican Representative Glenn Davis, with both parties conceding that the odds were against re-election of McCarthyite Republican Representative Charles Kersten.

Mr. Alsop stresses that no one yet could tell how much the farm defection would impact the voting or how far the urban trend had developed, says that based on his observations throughout the Midwest, the discontent of the farmers had not yet spread to the small towns which depended on the farms, and thus the Republican anxiety and the Democratic hopefulness in Wisconsin could not yet be deemed certain indicators of the final outcome.

Marquis Childs, in Detroit, suggests that the statement of the prior week by Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson, speaking in Detroit, regarding bird dogs and kennel dogs, relative to unemployment, had provided the Democrats the gimmick needed to win in Michigan, some comparing it to the gaffe by James G. Blaine in 1884 in the presidential election against Grover Cleveland, calling the Democrats the party of "rum, Romanism and rebellion", losing thereby the Catholic vote and also the election.

Unemployment the previous month in Michigan was close to 300,000, with an estimated 10,000 exhausting their unemployment compensation benefits each month, forcing them to fall back on savings or relief from the State.

Mr. Childs had talked to Secretary Wilson after his statement about dogs, and found him in a relaxed, jovial mood, entirely oblivious to the fact that he had just made a statement which echoed nationwide and would continue to do so through midterm election day, and probably for a long time afterward. The statement had stimulated interest in a campaign which had previously lacked fire.

Michigan incumbent Governor G. Mennen Williams, and Patrick McNamara, the Democrat running against incumbent Senator Homer Ferguson, had immediately pounced on the remark of Secretary Wilson, and the Democrats generally found the statement to highlight the perception of the Republicans as the party of big business. Democrats were saying that the Federal Government had to be more responsive to the states and local communities, especially in such areas as education, while Republicans were stressing peacetime prosperity, economy in government and the need to support the President in getting the country back to normalcy. Mr. McNamara was receiving more active support from Governor Williams, running for an unprecedented fourth term and considered an easy winner, than had other Democratic candidates in the past for the Senate, and Mr. Williams and his wife were effective campaigners.

Senator Ferguson was running scared, which might only be a sign of caution in a state which normally voted Republican. He was stressing Democratic weakness on Communism and the President's Federal aid to highway construction, while Mr. McNamara favored more Federal support for school construction, with a 20,000 classroom deficit in Michigan. Were it not for unemployment and other signs, such as the high Democratic registration, Senator Ferguson and virtually all present Republican members of Congress would be considered almost certain for re-election, but objective observers were beginning to have doubts, believing that two or three Republican House seats could be lost, and if the Democrats succeeded in getting out the vote in the large cities, Senator Ferguson could be imperiled. Should that occur, it would be a sharp repudiation of Republican insistence that they had brought the country back to contented normalcy, a reflection of the suspicion that such normalcy was not that of the prosperous early 1920's, but rather the normalcy of the 1930's, when high unemployment had necessitated broad relief measures, which nevertheless failed to cure the problem.

A letter writer from Chicago indicates that he was a dark-skinned half-breed who had been to nearly all of the 48 states and several foreign countries, had lived among peoples of all colors and, unlike many experts, could tell the facts based on personal experience, relates that the minority groups as a whole were far more intolerant and abusive of the power they might have at their command than the heavily criticized white people. He agrees that whites were not saints, but rejects the idea that non-whites were "so darn good either". He says that he had been discriminated against, abused, pushed around, called "greaser" and "dirty Indian" many more times by non-whites than by whites.

A letter writer indicates that he would not be fooled by the Democrats trying to run down President Eisenhower so that they could obtain a Democratic Congress, as they had under President Hoover in 1931 and 1932. He says he had become wise to Democratic tricks in their 20 years of "mink coats, five percenters, deep freezes, and unnecessary government bureaus to tell us how to run our lives." He believes that the safest place for government was in the hands of the people, rather than in the hands of bureaucrats or "potential dictators". He finds that the Democrats were doing their best to blacken the name of Congressman Charles Jonas, says that if Democrats had been "running for rope to hang themselves, they couldn't find enough string to tie a knot in."

A letter from the secretary of the Charlotte Lodge of the Loyal Order of Moose indicates appreciation for the cooperation and coverage from the newspaper of the Moose convention.

A letter writer from Concord, N.C., indicates that the behavior of Hurricane Hazel was the last straw, that the time had come to stop naming hurricanes after women, that it was an insult to the sex, giving all women a bad name, suggests naming them after serpents, gangsters, mythological monsters or insects. She encourages thinking of all the Hazels in the world, of whom she was one, who were sweet, demure young things seeing their name dragged through the mire.

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