The Charlotte News

Thursday, December 16, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports from Moscow that that Russia had warned France this date that ratification of the Paris agreements to rearm West Germany would "cross out and annul" the French-Soviet mutual assistance treaty of 1944, a warning conveyed in a formal diplomatic note from Soviet Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov to the French Ambassador to the Soviet Union, Louis Joxe. The note charged that the Government of premier Pierre Mendes-France had allied itself with "anti-Soviet military groupings headed by the United States." The Soviet note also indicated they were taking a favorable view of recent statements by the Japanese Foreign Minister that the new Government of Japan desired "normalization" of relations with the Soviet Union, and stood ready to discuss the subject with the Japanese Government. It also said that Communist China stood ready to discuss re-establishment of relations with Japan.

Several key members of Congress said this date that they favored efforts to exchange the 35 Chinese students in the country for 57 Americans being detained in Communist China, including the 11 Air Force crewmen imprisoned as alleged espionage agents, following their capture during the Korean War after being shot down over North Korea, not released in accordance with the terms of the July, 1953 Armistice regarding repatriation of all prisoners of war to their country of choice. Representative Joseph Martin of Massachusetts, retiring Speaker of the House, said that if the students wanted to return to Communist China, he would welcome any negotiations that might lead to that exchange. He said, however, that any exchange should not include a deal which would force the return of any Chinese student to their homeland should they wish to remain in the country. Senator Homer Ferguson, head of the Senate Republican policy committee, agreed with the statements. The State Department indicated the previous day through its press officer, Lincoln White, that the U.S. might consider an offer forthcoming from Communist China to exchange the Chinese students who had applied for exit visas but had been thus far denied. Senator John Sparkman of Alabama, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that he knew of no reason why the Government should insist on keeping the students in the country if they wanted to return to China. The State Department had said that the 35 students who had been denied exit visas had not been permitted to leave because specialized skills they had acquired in the U.S. might become valuable militarily to the Communist Chinese. Senator Sparkman said that such acquisition of skills did not present adequate justification for holding them in the U.S. if they desired to leave. Senator Albert Gore of Tennessee said that while he doubted the advisability of any deal with the Chinese Communists, he was willing to support any decision by the Administration regarding negotiations for the release of the airmen and other U.S. citizens held by the Chinese. Republican Senate Leader William Knowland of California voiced hope that the efforts at negotiation with the Chinese by U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold to obtain the release of the airmen would be successful, but he had his doubts.

Senator William Langer of North Dakota said this date that he would fight against Senate confirmation of Supreme Court Justice-designate John Harlan as a form of protest that no justice had ever been appointed from his state and six other states. Judge Harlan was from New York and had sat on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals since appointment by President Eisenhower the previous March. Senator Langer, who was set to lose his chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee at the start of the new Congress, stressed that he was not "impugning the honesty or integrity" of Judge Harlan. He had frequently complained in the past about slights to North Dakota in the matter of high presidential appointments. The Senator said he would vote against confirmation of Mr. Harlan or any person named thereafter to the Cabinet, unless that person hailed from one of seven states, in addition to North Dakota, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and South Dakota, because no one from those states had ever been appointed to either the Supreme Court or a Cabinet post.

From Reno, Nev., it was reported that a rolling earthquake of high intensity had struck Nevada and California early this date, but with only minor damage reported. It had been felt as far as Elko, Nev., 200 miles east of Reno, and throughout most of California to the west. It was believed to be centered at Fallon, Nev., 60 miles east of Reno and the epicenter of two recent earthquakes.

In Vienna, the Austrian Catholic news service quoted informed circles in Budapest as reporting that Josef Cardinal Mindszenty had been released from prison in Hungary, but the agency indicated there was no confirmation of that report. The Vatican said it also had no confirmation of similar reports. He had been arrested by the Communists on December 26, 1948, after a long-running battle with the Communists. He had also been imprisoned by the Nazis for his defiance during World War II. An Associated Press correspondent in Budapest said by telephone that he had heard nothing to indicate the release of the Cardinal.

In Cleveland, O., the trial for first-degree murder of Dr. Samuel Sheppard for the killing of his wife, Marilyn, the prior July 4, was wrapping up this date, with final summations by the State and defense counsel. Defense counsel William Corrigan argued that the case signified the "creaking of the ropes behind the scenes", that the members of the press present in the courtroom might consider their colleague, William Oatis of the Associated Press, and how he had been forced to confess in Czechoslovakia to espionage, and the Czech lawyers and what had happened to them. He said that since the case had begun, he had the sense that he had "been living in a dream." He said constitutional rights and privileges had been lost in other countries and found that such was occurring also in the United States. When Mr. Corrigan had referred to the fact that the body of the couple's unborn child had been removed from the body of the murdered Mrs. Sheppard and maintained in the morgue "to show students and curiosity seekers", Dr. Sheppard was observed to be shedding tears, holding a handkerchief over his face. Mr. Corrigan accused authorities of "looking for publicity" and of having "jumped to a conclusion" about the defendant's guilt, conducting a "sloppy autopsy, one they should be ashamed of", and of being "crude" in their references in court to some phases of the case. He said that they had made a mistake, were not big enough to admit it and were to be condemned for it. He said that the police, the prosecutor's office and the coroner had never developed a believable theory of the motive for the murder, stating, in a bitter and scathing manner, that they had evolved the theory that Mrs. Sheppard had been killed because she was pregnant. A theory had been developed in court during the case that Dr. Sheppard might be sterile and therefore not the father of the child Mrs. Sheppard was bearing at the time of her death. He alluded to a similar case which had arisen out of Brinkley, Ark., as reported in the newspaper the prior Monday, wherein a young wife was killed apparently by a prowler during the early morning hours while her husband dozed on the living room couch downstairs, and two young children slept in the adjoining bedroom, a five-year old daughter stating that she had seen a man hit her mother, Mr. Corrigan suggesting that perhaps the police and authorities in that community would not jump to the same conclusions which had led to suspicion and indictment of Dr. Sheppard for the murder of his wife. Mr. Corrigan also accused the Cleveland newspapers of creating an atmosphere of "hysteria" in the community. It would of course be on that latter point, the "carnival-like" atmosphere pervading the trial, that the Supreme Court would hold on habeas corpus in 1966 that due process and a fair trial had been thereby denied to Dr. Sheppard and reverse the 1954 conviction, after which a second trial would result in his acquittal.

In East Lansing, Mich., Dr. Charles A. Laughead, whom college officials said believed the world would end December 21, had resigned his position as a staff member of Michigan State College hospital the previous day, and the resignation was routinely accepted by the State Board of Agriculture, the governing board of the College. The doctor had been a staff physician at the hospital since 1948 and was resigning because of his belief in the end times at hand. The president of Michigan State said that he had first heard about it when a group of students came to him and reported that the doctor had been holding meetings at his home, preaching his beliefs acquired from some peculiar religious sect. The dean of students and the head of the College hospital had investigated the matter and found that the doctor freely admitted his beliefs, which included that flying saucers from Venus or Mars would arrive to rescue chosen survivors from the mountaintops. The doctor was disposing of his belongings, according to the College president, and preparing to move to some mountaintop to await rescue.

What's the big deal? Everybody knows that happened, even if it wasn't until December 28. Nobody's perfect in predicting the future.

On the editorial page, "Tammany Cooks Spoil the Broth" indicates that a member of the City Council, Basil Boyd, had proposed that the Council seek legislative authority to appoint all municipal department heads, a proposal which had won informal tentative approval by a thin majority, which would, if finally approved, strip Charlotte's city manager of the right to name 11 key officials who worked under him. Under Charlotte's form of governance, the city manager was the primary administrative official.

It regards the move as an open invitation to creation of a system of political appointments reminiscent of Tammany Hall in New York. Under the present form of municipal government, the Council was a policy-making body only, and, as Mayor Philip Van Every had pointed out, it should not be directly concerned with administrative details. It hopes that the Council majority would reconsider its position on the proposal by Mr. Boyd before the meeting later in the month with Mecklenburg County's legislative delegation.

It could have said that too much basil spoils the broth, if it really wanted to be clever with word twists.

"Timely Action after Untimely Doubts" indicates that some late doubts had arisen regarding the transfer of Duke Power Company's bus franchise in Charlotte to City Coach Lines, Inc., after questions had arisen regarding the structure of the latter firm and the need for general revision of the city's ancient franchise, with some discussion occurring of a delay in the second and final reading of the transfer arrangement, after it had been approved upon the first reading. Mayor Van Every had read from letters of mayors of Jacksonville, Fla., Evansville, Ind., and Flint, Mich., each presently served by CCL subsidiaries, which had praised its operations and services.

The News had also queried municipal officials in those cities and received good reports.

Within a little more than a half hour, the Council reached its final decision, approving the transfer, a decision which it finds a practical one which would likely result in the city having better public transportation service, with the only step remaining being approval by the State Utilities Commission.

"Big Boy Now" indicates that members of the City Council had endorsed Mayor Van Every's proposal the previous day that the city seek more "home rule" legislation in the upcoming General Assembly session of 1955, and it is pleased to see the change of heart, hopes that the Mecklenburg County delegation to the Legislature could now be convinced that Charlotte had grown up sufficiently to perform a few simple functions by itself without having to ask permission of the Assembly.

"'Never Do Today What You Can…'" indicates that the Charlotte post office was encouraging people to send their mail presently to obtain delivery by Christmas, reminding it of a man who had retired as a mail carrier in Detroit the previous December after 41 years of service, indicating that people had been late with their Christmas mail in 1911 and that they would be late in 1953 and, he guessed, would also be late in 1980.

It finds the comments to highlight a favorite trait, procrastination, and the futility of attempts to encourage celerity. But to the Post Office Department, delay in mailing placed a terrible strain on regular facilities and crippled normal service, with the result of slower deliveries for everyone. It suggests that procrastination had become the art of keeping up with yesterday, that it was almost a standard rule of behavior in many circles, with being on time having become "unfashionable". It indicates that it was, nevertheless, common sense to mail early, making room for the possibility that common sense had been completely discredited in 1954.

A piece from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, titled "Frogs Croakin' 'You All'", tells of a scientist informing the American Institute of Biological Scientists at a convention at the University of Florida that frogs and toads not only conversed with one another, they developed regional accents. The piece thinks it would gladden the heart of Senator Claghorn, the Southern statesman who had been conjured from the imagination of comedian Fred Allen, voted, according to the latter, during his college days to be "the member of the senior class most likely to secede" and graduated "magnolia cum laude".

It concludes that when frogs and toads communicated with one another in the Okefenokee Swamp, they did so with Southern accents, sprinkled with "You-alls", without rolling of "r's" and always dropping final "g's". It finds it reassuring, with so many long-established customs going by the board and sturdy principles down the drain, that there were pure-blooded Southern frogs and toads keeping their native Southern accents, "something to cling to in a world gone haywire."

A piece from the Greensboro Daily News suggests that the effect on civilization by the electric razor and the quick shower might be something to ponder. British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden had accomplished what Secretary of State Dulles had called a "diplomatic miracle" by offering to pledge four British divisions to the defense of the European continent, at which point France had dropped its opposition to West German rearmament, enabling Western European defense finally to be born. Mr. Eden had explained the origin of his idea by stating that it had come to him one morning while in the bath.

It suggests that many a flash of insight had been brought about by the safety razor or the soapy warmth of a tub bath. It questions whether he would have had the idea while standing under a stinging shower or while shaving with an electric razor.

It is quick to add that it was not old-fashioned, that it did not believe that there were great ideas formed in a tin washtub while the rest of the family stood in line for their Saturday night washing, and imagines that the old straight razors demanded significant attention to avoid slicing one's throat. But it championed the safety razor and the slow bath, finding that since the invention of the safety razor, civilization had made great strides, even if practicing the principle of post hoc, ergo propter hac.

It foresees that it might be vindicated by some future Gibbon, who, sifting the ashes of Western civilization, picks up the remains of an electric razor and a shower nozzle and proclaims, "The decline began with these."

Drew Pearson indicates that the President had made one important concession to military advisers, primarily Joint Chiefs chairman Admiral Arthur Radford and General James Van Fleet, former commander of the U.N. forces during the Korean War, who had been pressing him to take strong steps in China, that concession having been the use of the Navy to seize Communist Chinese merchant ships should the U.N. fail in its attempt to free the 11 U.S. airmen and two civilians being held for espionage by the Chinese. His concession had come only after a long series of debates inside the National Security Council and the White House, during most of which the President had resisted the advice of his military advisers. General Matthew Ridgway, chief of staff of the Army, had been his chief backer, though he had resisted the Eisenhower plan to reduce the strength of the armed forces and in consequence would likely be retired on his birthday the following March. Admiral Radford, however, could be quite charming and was able to talk the President into promising that the Navy would be used as indicated upon the stated contingency. The Admiral had done so in part by showing how easy it had been for Chiang Kai-shek's Navy, reinforced by U.S. observation planes and using former American warships, to capture Communist Chinese shipping in the Formosa Straits. Communist shipping had to pass through the Straits between the Chinese mainland and Formosa, where it was easy for Chiang's forces to lay in wait and pick off the ships almost at will. Thus, without imposition of a blockade which the President regarded as risking war, Communist China would not be able to communicate between the important seaports of the south and those of the north. He notes that the President was of the opinion that the U.N. mission would succeed and that a showdown with the Communist Chinese Navy would not be necessary.

The State Department had drawn up a secret list of 520 missing Americans, 472 servicemen and 54 civilians, who had disappeared behind the "Bamboo Curtain", with the Department virtually certain that many were alive in Communist prisons and having asked the CIA to locate them, that upon ascertainment of their being alive, the Government would make a vigorous protest in the U.N. and then follow up with military pressure if necessary for their release. In addition, the French were missing 20,000 troops whom the Communists had been supposed to repatriate under the Indochinese armistice of the prior July.

The recent East German elections showed that the number of voters had dropped by over 238,000 during the previous four years, most being refugees to the West.

The Administration was trying to arrange for Chief Justice Earl Warren to address a joint session of Congress, as the Federal courts were in such urgent need of increased appropriations that a personal appeal by the Chief Justice was considered necessary. The Chief, he points out, did not even have a limousine and either had to rent one or hail a cab to attend formal functions. Minor secretaries within the executive branch, meanwhile, drove up in official government limousines. The President and First Lady had four presidential limousines between them, and another three for transporting important visitors. Mr. Pearson suggests that perhaps they could lend one of the seven to the Chief Justice.

Senator William Knowland's break with the Administration was not a personal split with the President, but rather embodied resentment against Vice-President Nixon, with the Senator from California being so bitter against the latter, also from California, that he would automatically oppose anything Mr. Nixon favored. As the Vice-President was considered to be the voice of the President in dealing with Congress, the opposition to Mr. Nixon by Senator Knowland had the effect of placing the latter at odds with the Administration on nearly every issue. Friends of Senator Knowland said that behind that effort was a desire to replace Senator Robert Taft as spokesman for the Republican conservative wing, premised on the notion that in the event the President chose not to run again in 1956, the party would provide the nomination to the most promising conservative candidate, explaining why Senator Knowland declined comment recently as to whether the President ought be drafted by the party for renomination. On the other hand, if the President elected to run in 1956, he might be forced to choose a conservative running mate for the sake of party unity, and in either case, Senator Knowland wanted to be the most available choice.

Joseph Alsop, in Saigon, tells of there having been a serious crisis there in the previous week because of failure of memory and a certain naivete of past U.S. policy-making, the latter consisting of giving support to Premier Ngo Dinh Diem without a clear idea of what he would do with his power.

More than once, the U.S. Embassy had intervened to prevent President Diem from being physically removed from leadership in South Vietnam during his quarrel with General Nguyen Van Hinh and the Vietnamese Army. The belief appeared to exist that if General Hinh were gotten out of the way, all would automatically be well, similar illusions having been held at one time in Chung-king by the Nationalist Government of China prior to its fall in 1949 to the Communists. The U.S. had committed to the Diem regime for good reasons, as he was scrupulously honest, extremely courageous, and too much a stout nationalist to be regarded as a French puppet by the populace, a fatal label in South Vietnam at present. Unfortunately, he was also, though a devout Christian, a man who took his political ideas from the ancient maxim of Confucius: "To put the country in order, the Son of Heaven needs only to have a pure heart and to sit facing south." The rapid Communist penetration of South Vietnam appeared to trouble him very little. He was also chiefly influenced by his own family, who primarily made up the Government, particularly by his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, and his wife, the "tigerish" Madame Nhu, Vietnamese Ambassador to the U.S. and niece of the foreign minister.

When the quarrel with General Hinh had ended finally with the latter's removal from leadership of the Army, the Americans in Saigon, and even the less optimistic French, supposed that President Diem would immediately establish a strong and efficient government and that, moreover, there would be an intimate collaboration between the civil authorities and the Vietnamese Army, the only serious instrument of order in the country. The obvious step, therefore, was to place General Nguyen Van Vy, a combat soldier who had greater confidence in the Army than did General Hinh, as the new head of the Army, but the President, his brother and sister-in-law wanted personal power over the Army and so insisted on naming a junior officer with no real strength, General Le Van Ty as the new chief of staff of an army already disorganized and on the verge of rebellion. Mr. Alsop remarks that it was a carbon copy of the move made by the Nationalist Chinese Government when Chiang Kai-shek and Madame Chiang bowed to their personal dislike of the capable and brave General Chen Cheng in favor of their man, General Ho Ying-chin before the fall to the Communists.

The immediate result had been the crisis of which Mr. Alsop had commented at the start of the piece, in the course of which General Lawton Collins and the wise French commander, General Paul Ely, had worked together closely. It was known that General Collins had used some very harsh words to President Diem, the outcome of which appeared to be a compromise whereby General Ty would become chief of staff while the responsibility of troop command would go to General Vy, and the brave and efficient Phan Huy Quat would be named minister of defense. It was believed that such a compromise would somehow work to save the day, despite being reminiscent of the same types of compromises put together by Nationalist China before its fall.

Mr. Alsop allows that it might work or that some better substitute might be devised, finds that General Collins was doing his best as was General Ely, and that among the Vietnamese leaders there were men of courage and foresight aplenty.

General Marshall had been sent by President Truman in 1946 to China to arrange a coalition government between the Communists and Nationalists because it appeared, at the time, the best and cheapest way out of a bad situation. General Collins had been sent to Saigon to put something together for the same reasons. Mr. Alsop observes that a coalition government would not have averted the loss of China, whereas the success of General Collins might yet avert the loss of the rest of Indo-China, while the motives of the mission still limited his effort.

Larry Hirsch, writing in the Florida Times-Union, indicates that the previous year at Christmas, "Mommy bussed Santa Claus", while this year, she had enticed him to do the mambo, questioning what would take place the following year. He hopes they might together mount Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and ride off into a Winter Wonderland, where they would never be heard of again, suggests that they might end up in a special kind of purgatory reserved for popular songwriters who had taken it upon themselves to revise legends, myths and religion to make a quick buck, a purgatory which undoubtedly consisted of a year-round White Christmas, celebrated every hour on the hour in the Chapel in the Moonlight, with the Crying in the Chapel having to be very loud.

He regards the songwriters as achieving a "parasitical livelihood" off the legends and myths, while Santa Claus and Jesus Christ had been successes for centuries on their own merits because they had filled a basic need of the human spirit. Clement Moore had set down, once and for all time, the truth of the legend of Santa Claus in "A Visit from St. Nicholas". Similarly, but in a grander way, the great Hebrew poets had recorded the story of Jesus in the Bible. Around those two stories had arisen a large amount of good Christmas music, composed by people motivated by something other than cash. He finds the American dollar sign not to have a fitting place atop the Christmas tree or the church steeple.

He suggests that the latest "pseudo-religious song" was "Whither Thou Goest", a commercial version of the Biblical story of Ruth, epitomizing all which was phony in "Tin Pan Alley's sudden conversion to the cloth". The publisher of that song, Broadcast Music, Inc., had disseminated a publicity handout which began: "SONGS BY SLIDE RULE SCIENTIFIC SLANT OF SONG WRITING EXPLAINED BY ENGINEER-WRITER OF HIT SONG 'WHITHER THOU GOEST'." The writer of the song, Guy Singer, said in the handout that it was exactly as he had planned it, that he had created a formula for controlling all of the factors involved and had successfully avoided indulging in wishful theory. The handout explained in detail how he had recognized the commercial possibilities of Ruth in story and song and then calculatedly composed the piece through his "technological approach to music". The final paragraph of the handout provided an even clearer view of the "trash in Tin Pan Alley", saying: "A true engineer, Guy Singer is quick to make it clear that his formula thus far offers no conclusions. 'As an aeronautical engineer, I know there's always a faster plane on the drawing board than there is on the assembly line,' he declared. 'Who knows? Maybe my next composition will break the sound barrier.'" The publisher then added: "Who cares—so long as it breaks into the bestseller list, like 'Whither Thou goest'?"

Mr. Hirsch indicates that the publisher was correct in asking who cared, that their boys had broken the sound barrier long earlier and he now requests a little quiet, such as just one small Silent Night.

Probably unwittingly, he was being a bit cruel to the recording artists who had apparently made the biggest hit of "Whither Thou Goest" thus far, Les Paul and Mary Ford, as their first child a few days earlier had died four days after premature birth.

A letter writer indicates that people in the community had given generously to the United Appeal drive earlier and is now wondering whether the drive would continue all year long. She was also wondering about the financial overhead of the telethon which they contemplated and questions whether the money for it would not be more properly provided to the organizations in whose names the money had been collected, with the Appeal admitting that it had done its best to achieve the goal it had set but falling short by $115,000. She had just mailed a check to the Mecklenburg Tuberculosis Association for Christmas Seals and intended to give as much as possible to the March of Dimes and to the local American Cancer Society during their campaigns in January and April, and so wonders how long the United Appeal drive would be extended.

A letter writer indicates that many would go home at Christmas to be with their loved ones while many would purchase whiskey and never give a thought to honoring the Saviour. As the day drew near, her thoughts, she indicates, were of the Saviour, and she was thankful that she had someone who cared enough for her to die and let her be saved. She says that she would not go into the world, drink or curse on that day honoring the birth of Christ for fear that something would happen "to end the precious life we have here in America, for when we love everybody and live a Christian life, when Christmas comes, we will be happy, and as Christmas draws near, we can bow our heads and thank God for all His blessings and live closer to Him than ever before. We all need Him more than He needs us and no one knows when He will call."

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