The Charlotte News

Monday, December 13, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold and his aides were awaiting response from the Communist Chinese regarding his proposal to meet with them for discussion of freeing the 11 American fliers imprisoned for espionage activities, after they had been shot down during the Korean War. A Peiping radio broadcast monitored in Tokyo early this date, asserting that the U.N. "has no right to interfere with China's sentencing of the American spies," had drawn no comment immediately from U.N. officials. The broadcast had made no direct reference to the Secretary-General's cable to Premier Chou En-lai the prior Friday proposing the meeting soon after December 26. The broadcast repeated previous charges by the Communist Chinese, which had been echoed by the Soviets in the U.N. General Assembly debate, that the imprisoned Americans had "sneaked into China by air to carry out espionage" and that it was China's sovereign right to punish spies. The U.N. Command had claimed that the airmen had been shot down over North Korea during the war and that therefore they should have been returned as part of the Armistice terms regarding repatriation of all prisoners of war.

The President met this date with Republican Congressional leaders to outline the Administration's 1955 legislative proposals on domestic matters, but also unexpectedly held a discussion of foreign relations for 45 minutes, led by Secretary of State Dulles and followed by Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson. The President had said at his press conference the previous Wednesday that Democratic leaders would also join the discussion in a conference the following day regarding foreign policy.

In New York, the Shah of Iran and his Queen had flown to Washington this date in the President's personal plane to meet with the President at the White House. It was his first visit to the U.S. in five years.

In Vatican City, reliable informants at the Vatican said that Pope Pius XII was somewhat weaker this date, but a later official statement had said that his condition had shown slight improvement. He had been under close medical supervision since December 2 when his acute stomach issues had brought him near death. The ceremony consecrating his good friend, Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini as Archbishop of Milan had caused a strain the previous day and he was having trouble, according to the source, getting food down. An official Vatican communiqué issued during the afternoon said that his condition had slightly improved during the morning and he had taken audiences with two monsignors per his normal schedule.

In Washington, the attorneys for former State Department Far Eastern consultant Owen Lattimore, indicted on perjury charges stemming from his denial of sympathies with Communism before the Senate Internal Security subcommittee in 1952, stating that he had never been a follower of the Communist line and had never been a promoter of Communist interests, sought dismissal of the new two-count indictment, contending that it was overly vague because the sole issue would be Mr. Lattimore's "opinion of his opinions". The original indictment had been dismissed by the same Federal District Court judge as being overly vague in its principal count by charging that Mr. Lattimore had committed perjury by denying that he was a Communist sympathizer or promoter of Communist causes, a dismissal upheld by the D.C. Court of Appeals, meeting en banc, by a vote of eight to one. That decision, however, had reinstated two other counts which had also been dismissed, the basis for the second indictment.

In Galveston, Tex., the State Attorney General of Alabama, Silas Garrett III, was served this date with a fugitive arrest warrant, charging him with killing Albert Patterson, the Attorney General-nominate of Alabama, shot to death the prior June 18. Mr. Garrett was being treated for a mental and physical condition at a hospital in Galveston. He was a central figure in the notorious Phenix City, Ala., cleanup of corruption and vice, catering to neighboring Fort Benning, Ga. Mr. Patterson had been a crusader against the vice in his election campaign and had pledged to clean it up as Attorney General. Two other persons had already been arrested in connection with the murder, a former chief deputy sheriff and a suspended prosecutor. Mr. Patterson's son, John, had taken the place of his father on the November general election ballot and had easily won in the one-party state.

In Cleveland, O., the first-degree murder trial of Dr. Samuel Sheppard, charged in the killing of his wife, Marilyn, the previous July 4, continued this date with the completion of direct examination of the doctor and the start of cross-examination by the prosecutor. At the end of direct, the doctor admitted, in response to his counsel's question, that he had committed some "sins", which were not immediately described, saying he had "succumbed to human frailties." The testimony was designed to neutralize the impact of the prosecution's evidence that the doctor had an extramarital affair with a medical technician, and that purportedly an argument over the affair had led to the murder of Mrs. Sheppard, though no evidence was adduced showing any such argument had taken place at any time, despite Mrs. Sheppard having been aware the prior spring, according to the testimony of a friend, that there had been some relationship between the doctor and the young woman but that she believed it was over and had not been serious. Defense counsel had also elicited from the doctor the fact that his watch wristband, which he had been wearing the night of his wife's murder and which was now broken, was not in that condition when he had last worn it, and that he did not know how it had become broken. He also testified that a T-shirt found on the beach several hundred feet from his home could have belonged to him, but that he did not know whether or not it was his. A neighbor couple who had been visiting with the Sheppards during the evening prior to the murder, occurring during the wee hours of the morning, had testified earlier that the doctor was wearing a T-shirt when they had last seen him, as he fell asleep on the living room couch while they and Mrs. Sheppard continued to watch television until around midnight, when the couple left. In the morning, at the point when police arrived on the scene, the doctor was bare from the waist up and indicated that he did not remember what had become of his T-shirt or anything about it. The doctor said he had never been shown the T-shirt prior to the trial. Before the start of the session, defense counsel had told reporters that it might be several days before Dr. Charles Elkins, a brain specialist, would be able to testify regarding his examination of the defendant in the hospital on the morning following the murder, because Dr. Elkins, who had returned from Arizona to Cleveland to testify, was suffering from a severe attack of laryngitis and could hardly speak. He had been originally called to the hospital by the Sheppard family to examine the doctor regarding spinal injuries caused by the intruder.

In Springfield, O., an acting municipal judge declared that a person could not shoot Santa Claus in the town or he would be tried before a jury consisting entirely of children. The ruling came in response to a want-ad placed in the Springfield Daily News and Sun, which said: "I will shoot Santa Claus if I don't find something to do." Reporters had called the number listed and talked to a bookbinder who said he had been laid off from work through the Christmas holidays and wanted to earn some money to brighten his family's Christmas, indicating that since inserting the ad, he had received two calls pleading for Santa's life, both begging him not to do it, with one suggesting that he go to the North Pole and that Santa would be sure to give him a job. He needed a new target, as some low-life had already beat him to it. Perhaps, he should take aim at the Easter bunny.

On the editorial page, "Golden Rule Is the Key to Safety" indicates that the place to attack the traffic safety problem in the state was in the community, and that the responsibility rested upon each individual citizen, as would be demonstrated on Wednesday, December 15, when Charlotte participated in the nationwide observance of "Safe Driving Day". The event was being officially promoted by the City and police authorities, and to make it a success required individual motorists and pedestrians to follow suit.

It suggests three basic rules to follow on that date, as well as every day, to observe the letter and spirit of all traffic regulations, to be courteous to every driver and pedestrian, practicing sportsmanship the while, and to give full attention to driving and walking. It concludes that it was simply the Golden Rule all over again.

That includes nowadays not jabbering away on your cellphone or playing video games while letting your self-driving vehicle pilot itself into eventual oblivion when it runs out of lines to follow.

"Uncle Wasn't Alone in Cotton Error" indicates that it had thought it had found a Government agency which ought be abolished, but after investigation, discovered that the agency had not outlived its usefulness. That agency was the Department of Agriculture's Crop Reporting Board, which forecast crop yields. Of late, the Board had been under fire from the cotton trade, quoting from an editorial in the Cotton Digest of the previous month, complaining because the Board's monthly estimates for the cotton crop fluctuated enormously, providing examples. Persons who had acted on the basis of the reports had gotten hurt.

It indicates that the Board had been in error in its earlier estimates during the year, but it had not been alone, as private organizations which made forecasts had also made mistakes. It cites the Journal of Commerce, which based its conclusions on reports from several thousand crop correspondents, showing a table of its cotton predictions, similar to those of the Board during the prior five months.

It concludes that crop forecasting was difficult, particularly during the growing season, as crop forecasters had to consider unknowns such as weather and its effect, possible pest damage, the extent of over-planting and the amount of increased yield from technological progress. It finds that the cotton trade was over-anxious to get the Government out of cotton crop forecasting, but the Government forecasters at least kept private forecasters from manipulating estimates for commercial advantage.

"Technology: Blessing or Curse?" indicates that delegates to the CIO convention in Los Angeles had wondered the previous week about the impact of push-button factory production on American labor and had asked Congress to investigate the matter. Similar fears had been expressed for over 50 years.

Inventions naturally produced a phenomenon called technological unemployment, an example having been shown by the layoff of thousands of theater musicians at the point, 25 years earlier, when talking pictures first appeared. But technology also produced jobs, as in the large aircraft industry. At present, it finds that the loss of jobs to technology appeared no greater than those produced by it, and because technological advance drove down the cost of production, raised the output and built a more abundant future for the country, there was no reason why it should be resisted. It concludes that even in the push-button age, the goal of full production and full employment was not unattainable.

A piece from the Tar Heel Banker, titled "'May We Not Spend Christmas'", indicates that Dr. Peter Marshall had probably been one of the most popular and effective chaplains of the Senate that it ever had, with his prayers having made a profound impression on all who heard them, having a way of phrasing things which hit the nail on the head. It recalls one of his prayers of the Christmas season, in which he had said: "May we not spend Christmas, but keep it, that we may be kept in its hope…"

It indicates that those at the publication wished everyone a joyous Christmas and that all would be able to keep Christmas rather than merely spend it.

Sounds like a typical Scrooge bank wish.

Drew Pearson indicates it was the season for members of Congress to go on junkets and that during the current year, they were setting a high-watermark for it, numbering 11 such trips in all, some of which were helpful in getting the members oriented regarding problems abroad on which they would need to legislate, while some were simply a waste of the taxpayers' money. He finds the most inexcusable trip currently to be one taken by part of the Joint Atomic Energy Committee, supposedly to study the raw material resources for the atom bomb. But they were going to New Zealand, Australia, India, Egypt and Europe, making it hard to understand what they would learn there about available uranium. The subcommittee was headed by Senator John W. Bricker of Ohio, and Congressmen Sterling Cole of New York and his wife, James Van Zandt of Pennsylvania and his wife, Carl Hinshaw of California and Thomas Jenkins of Ohio were also along. Congressman Cole had also taken his sister-in-law. They were all traveling, along with members of the staff, an AEC director of raw material, a member of the State Department and a representative of the Pentagon, in a Government plane supplied by the Military Air Transport Command and in some cases were stopping in Government quarters at military bases.

He also looks at questionable Congressional junkets to Spain, naming the members who were going there.

Stewart Alsop tells of Adlai Stevenson, according to those who had met with him recently, being a thoroughly relaxed politician, surprisingly so for a man so given to "agonizing over difficult decisions." His friends had a simple explanation for it, that the difficult decision for him on whether to run again in 1956 was largely out of his hands, and that he genuinely did not care which way the decision went.

Mr. Stevenson was assuming that the President would run again, despite some around the former Governor of Illinois thinking that he might not, pointing to bad trouble which he would likely have during the ensuing two years, confronted with a Democratic Congress, coupled with the notion that the President, and especially Mrs. Eisenhower, wanted a few years of untroubled rest. But it was also clear that there would be extraordinary pressure from the Republican Party to get the President to run again and it appeared increasingly likely that the party would come apart at the seams if he did not run.

Unlike some wishful Democrats, Mr. Stevenson acknowledged that the President was still remarkably popular, and had confided to friends that he believed the President could beat any Democratic candidate at present, without exception. He would likely remain a formidable candidate, barring any exceptional circumstances such as a depression, terrible trouble abroad or the visible disintegration of the Republican Party. In that event, the friends of Mr. Stevenson believed he would not be unhappy not to run in 1956. He was only 54 years old and, according to his friends, he might do much better by waiting until 1960 to run again.

But those Democrats who were not the friends of Mr. Stevenson, notably some of those close to former President Truman, were saying, in effect, that his apparent indifference toward 1956 was all a cleverly contrived front. They pointed to the election of Paul Butler as DNC chairman, which they regarded as a brilliantly executed coup by Mr. Stevenson. That election was supposedly managed by former DNC chairman Stephen Mitchell, after President Truman had openly opposed Mr. Butler while Mr. Stevenson remained, ostensibly, above the fray. The election of Mr. Butler showed that Mr. Stevenson was really the boss of the Democratic Party and remained the favorite to be the nominee again in 1956. It had been accomplished without directly committing Mr. Stevenson and without a break from former President Truman. A member of the anti-Stevenson underground within the party had remarked, "You've got to hand it to the guy."

It had been costing Mr. Stevenson around $25,000 per year to maintain his Chicago office without any income, and during the ensuing year, in partnership with a younger lawyer, William Wirtz, Mr. Stevenson hoped to recoup that loss, already having several lucrative clients, notably RCA.

Thus, Mr. Alsop finds two pictures emerging, one of Mr. Stevenson as scheming for the nomination, and the other of the private citizen intent on recouping his personal fortune while being indifferent to politics. He concludes that both pictures were probably fairly accurate. Mr. Stevenson did have genuine reservations about taking on the President a second time and would not be disappointed if he did not receive the nomination in 1956, wanting to be in the best possible position, however, to get the nomination should he decide to seek it.

Robert C. Ruark indicates that the American Museum of Natural History in New York had always held of fascination to him, both as a child and as an adult, with its caves full of mounted animals and historic skeletons of dinosaurs and mammoths. It was also the case with one of his friends, who had recently sent his daughters for an afternoon visit to the museum, hoping expectantly for a bright report, but being upset when they returned home without comment and immediately began watching television. He had turned off the knob and asked them what they had seen during the afternoon, to which the eldest daughter had responded, "Bones," and turned back on the television.

Mr. Ruark indicates that the similar fascination with television by the young had emerged at a dinner recently when the youngest son of a friend came in to meet the guests before bedtime and was admonished to say hello, at which point he said, "Halo, evvybody, Halo. Dat's a s'ampoo to wass hair wiv."

He suggests that there was a dangerous dependence on canned entertainment being developed for the children, despite the natural inclination of harassed mothers to use it as a weapon and a reward.

He recalls that in his youth, his mother had allowed him out of the yard only once per week, on Fridays, to attend the Tarzan serial and a cowboy picture at the Bijou, and that had been all of the commercial amusement he had been allotted. It had evolved in him an immense interest in books, animals and bone-breaking sports to fill in the rest of the week. It also produced good behavior for most of the week, as his mother would cancel the outing for the movies if he "cut up a ruckus".

He says he was not so much concerned about the quality of entertainment, as children had always been fascinated by violence, whether from fairy tales or Robin Hood, but the problem was that the children were now being flooded with diversion for which they did not have to work, distractions from realities, looking constantly outward at a strange world which was provided for their amusement. Now, modern youth wedded to television, even those living in rural areas, had to be pushed out of doors to play, whereas formerly, a mother's problem had been to get them into the house in time to wash up for supper.

He admits that it was easy to talk when one did not have kids of one's own, but indicates that if he had them, he would ration their entertainment and place television in a position of privilege rather than as their steady diet.

A letter from Bill Williamson of Phoenix, Ariz., formerly of Charlotte, writes again to the newspaper, which was his wont every so often, extolling at some length and in detail the virtues of living on the land for part of the year, camping each night by a fire, concluding that one, in that event, was "mighty sorry for the poor devils in the city in their struggle for existence, with their aches and pains, mortgages, tax burdens, and what not—finally lapsing into verse, beginning: "Give me the lonesome places,/ Where the coyotes howl at night,/ Where there's no worried human faces,/ And everything is just right..."

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