The Charlotte News

Friday, December 24, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Paris, for the second time in four months, the French National Assembly had refused to approve rearmament of West Germany, but Premier Pierre Mendes-France had quickly announced that he would call a second vote and stake his Government on its final approval. The Premier had been stunned by the rejection of the treaty by a vote of 280 to 259, which would make West Germany part of a seven-nation Western European alliance. The Premier had been so confident of ratification that he had not made it a confidence issue, as the pact had been given preliminary approval by the Assembly the previous October, after having killed it the previous August. The popular Republican Movement Community members had indicated they would abstain in the vote on the treaty, but the party had decided at the last minute the previous night to oppose it. The Premier anticipated taking the second vote sometime the following week. The Assembly voted to approve restoration of West German sovereignty and to ratify an agreement between France and West Germany regarding the disputed Saar region.

In Vienna, a Budapest radio broadcast was heard this date indicating that Noel Field, former State Department official, and his wife had asked and been granted political asylum in Communist Hungary. The couple had been released on November 17 after serving five years in Hungarian prisons on espionage charges, and U.S. diplomats in Budapest had seen them only one time, 24 hours after the Hungarian Government had announced their release.

From London, it was reported that winter gales across Europe had abated this date, leaving at least 74 persons dead and tremendous property damage, with prospects being now bright for a calm and peaceful Christmas. Rescue workers stood guard along Western Europe's low-lying areas against sudden new storms. Reports from Holland, Belgium, the English east coast, Denmark and northern Germany had been that the walls had generally held firm through the three-day storms and the hours of crisis were believed past. The British Army and Air Force had restored Christmas leave to thousands of men who had been alerted to fight possible flooding. A winter resort at Zermatt, Switzerland, had been isolated during the night by avalanches and landslides in the narrow valley connecting it with the outside world, as heavy snow had fallen throughout the Swiss Alps, albeit without reports of casualties. Snowfalls were also reported over the Pyrenees. Twelve persons had died in storms across West Germany and two had been reported killed within East Germany. Nine deaths from the storm had been reported in Britain and one in Belgium.

Christmas was being celebrated all around the United States in various ways. The President and Mrs. Eisenhower would not be able to have their grandchildren present in Augusta, Ga., where they were spending Christmas, as the grandchildren were in Fort Leavenworth, Kans., where their father, Major John Eisenhower, was stationed. In Hot Springs, Ark., a candlelight procession down a mountainside would be followed by the 24th annual pageant in a natural amphitheater, with 5,000 attendees anticipated. In Boston, two groups of bellringers would tour Beacon Hill, ringing out Christmas carols on English hand bells cast in Whitechapel Foundry, London, where the Liberty Bell had also been cast, a celebration which had been originated some 25 years earlier, with grandchildren of the originator of the celebration taking part in 1954. In Sun Valley, Ida., several hundred skiers would race down Dollar Mountain on Christmas Eve in a torch light procession. In Elkhart, Ind., 1,000 church choir members would join in the second annual Parade of Carolers through the heart of the city, with the carolers clad in old-time costumes, traveling also by bus to sing in front of homes of shut-ins. In Syracuse, N.Y., the Onondaga County Masons were staging nightly during the week, in downtown Clinton Square, a pageant depicting the birth of Christ. In Carville, La., 325 leprosy patients at the Public Health Services' Hospital would put on their annual nativity play, to be followed by various religious services. In Bethlehem, Pa., a huge lighted cross had been erected atop South Mountain at the edge of the city and thousands of visitors had come nightly to observe it, as well as other elaborate decorations. In Rodanthe, N.C., residents of the Outer Banks would have their celebration on Old Christmas or the Epiphany, January 6, just before which, Old Bull, a villager wearing a papier-mâché head of a bull, would go around bellowing to the children that they had better be good for Christmas. In Winston-Salem, N.C., thousands of worshipers would gather in Moravian churches for the traditional Christmas Eve Love Feast services, dating back to 1771, a custom which included showing visitors through old Moravian houses, serving of Moravian sugar cake, coffee and cookies.

The News, for the first time since 1948, because of intruding wars and the fact that Christmas in 1949 fell on a Sunday, would not publish on Christmas Day this year, giving the 175 men and women of its staff and the more than 1,000 carrier-salesmen who delivered it each afternoon the day off. It wishes all readers a Merry Christmas and a Bright New Year.

On the editorial page, "On Earth Peace, Good Will Toward Men" quotes the Christmas story from the Bible, in Luke, chapter 2, verses 1 through 20.

"First, There Must Be a Will for Peace", a by-lined piece by News publisher Thomas L. Robinson, relates that on Christmas Eve, 1954, they walked "in a world of fear and darkness because greed and pride and hate have deep roots in the hearts of men. Force and diplomacy may keep the guns silent for a time, but until the will for peace burns fiercely in the souls of men everywhere we will be haunted by fear."

He indicates that people might feel as individuals that they could do little about those problems, but if everyone would stop and think, they would realize that they could do much, as each community, state and nation represented the sum of the attitudes of the individuals who lived in them. Each could work and pray for peace and when each attained that goal, there would be peace in the hearts of all and a spirit of good will reflected in each individual countenance, a spirit which knew no bitterness or hate. He counsels that when those attitudes would be attained, the true spirit of Christmas would also be attained, with this message of hope, faith and love, enabling keeping the spirit of Christmas every day.

"To You Who Gave…" expresses thanks for those local residents who had given to the Empty Stocking Fund, sponsored by The News, which had thus far collected $11,300 to enable those who could not afford to provide Christmas for their families to do so. Church groups, bridge clubs, labor unions, garden clubs, Boy Scout troops, business firms, book clubs, fraternities and other organizations had contributed, as well as many individuals, some of whom had given their names while some had contributed anonymously, with donations varying from pennies to hundreds of dollars, with the Charlotte Wrestling & Boxing Commission, headed by Grady Cole, having, per its usual practice, made a large donation, this year for $1,500. Because of those donations, joy instead of sadness would greet hundreds of Charlotte homes on Christmas Day.

A piece from the Gastonia Gazette, titled "He Did It!" indicates that a ten-year old from Galax, Va., had done something recently which it believes millions of boys and girls had wanted to do, that it had wanted to do 40 years earlier, that as the boy was admitted to the hospital to have his tonsils taken out, just as the nurse was ready to anesthetize him, he had jumped off the operating table, bolted out the door and out of the hospital, running barefoot through the snow with his nightshirttail flying, back to the safety of his home. He had caught a bad cold in the process and the operation had to be postponed. But, it concludes, he still had his tonsils and had said he was going to keep them. It congratulates him for "nice work".

Drew Pearson indicates that there had been a day when the life of a newspaperman was relatively easy at Christmas time, as was life for most of the world, not worried too much about wars and international trouble spots or worried too much about work for a newspaperman. In those earlier times, he was able to take Christmas off to write about the status of Christmas Island, whether it was American or British, of which no one cared in those days, but it had given him something about which to write ahead of Christmas and then relax during the holiday. Now, times had changed, even regarding Christmas Island, which had assumed great importance internationally during World War II, with U.S. planes flying to the South Pacific using it as a refueling stop. Now it had receded into unimportance once more. Modern long-range planes flew right over it and the interest of the United States had moved on to islands farther away, off the coast of mainland China, the Nationalist-held Quemoy and Tachen Islands, of which hardly anyone had ever heard until recently.

He indicates that it all illustrated the expanding far-flung interest of the U.S. and the change which had come over the world, though not particularly illustrative of the spirit of Christmas.

There had been a time just a little over a decade earlier when President Roosevelt's statement that America's "frontier was now on the Rhine" brought howls of anguish from a group of Senators who had gone to see him about it. Now, those Senators, some from the same isolationist school, wanted the U.S. to invade the Chinese mainland and even provoke a preventive war with China.

But there was one thing which had not changed, the basic teaching of Christ, whose birth the holiday commemorated. If things had been simple 20 years earlier, it was even simpler when Joseph and Mary had ridden into Bethlehem on a donkey, preparing for the birth of their child who was to set a new standard of peace on earth and goodwill to men. He suggests that men's moral standards at that time had been a lot higher than at present. The prophets of Israel had repeatedly warned their people that if they did not live up to those standards, they would be destroyed. Then Jesus brought forth the highest expression of moral and ethical behavior ever known to man in his Sermon on the Mount.

He indicates that it might seem strange for a newspaperman who was called a lot of names and was supposed to write backstage stories to talk about such things, but finds that there was no story, either backstage or in front of the stage, "as important as man's weary, uncertain struggle toward the ideals set forth in that sermon."

The bulk of the page this date is taken up by showing pictures of four Christmas cards which had been received by residents of the city during the current season. Editorial comment below the representations indicates that mailing of Christmas cards was a practice of recent origin. The early formalistic design of cards gave way to symbols not linked to religious scenes, including Santa Claus, snow, holly, poinsettias, candles, lighted trees, fireplaces and old English stagecoaches. Then dogs and assorted cats came into the picture and "broke the dam", such that now anything went, "from a hula dancer to a birdseye view of the Petit Palais des Champs-Elysees." It makes some observations about the four Christmas cards depicted and their unusual symbolic representations.

A letter writer wishes the friends who had written her and sent her Christmas cards a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, indicating that she would not be able to send any cards but wished God's blessings on each of the persons who had remembered her. She indicates that the newspaper had good things for the bread of life if they were read, such as the pieces by the Reverend Herbert Spaugh, and expresses that the Empty Stocking Fund sponsored by the newspaper represented a good Christian deed.

A letter writer from the Current Topics Book Club suggests, on behalf of the Club's 18 members, that the Charlotte Carrousel parade, which had taken place on Thanksgiving Day, was depriving the community of one of its most thoroughly religious holidays. She suggests that it be held instead on a regular shopping day so that it would bring more people into the city to shop in the stores afterward.

A letter writer indicates that Charlotte had become the "begging center of America, with almost a million per year begged from the people" through the United Appeal. He finds that the Appeal had been so determined to obtain funding that it had utilized young children to beg on the streets on Sunday after church, and he believes that Charlotte was becoming disgusted with that situation. He thinks that the citizens paid taxes to look after the health, recreation and welfare of the people, and so should not be bothered by the solicitations for additional funding for private charities. Bah, humbug!

First Day of Christmas: "McCarthy" invalides-fare free.

Second Day of Christmas: No "McNixon" curdled love.

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