The Charlotte News

Wednesday, February 17, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Berlin, at the Big Four foreign ministers conference, French Foreign Minister Georges Bidault had sought new instructions from his Government following the fifth secret meeting of the conference at the Soviet Embassy during the morning, emerging from it "very perturbed". The meeting dealt primarily with the proposal by Soviet Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov for a big five meeting to include Communist China, which the Western Big Three foreign ministers had rejected insofar as China being allowed to meet as an equal power, but had indicated that they would allow China to sit in on those parts of the meeting dealing with Far Eastern subjects. The West wanted to induce Mr. Molotov to use his influence to revive the stalled Korean peace conference, yet to be initiated, though by the terms of the Armistice, scheduled to begin the prior late October. The principal aim of the French was to obtain a negotiated peace in Indo-China. The story hypothesizes that if M. Bidault had been placed in the position by Mr. Molotov of exchanging full recognition of the Communist Chinese for such a negotiated peace, it might have prompted him to seek instructions from his Government after the meeting this date. It indicates that it was likely the last secret meeting of the conference, set to end the following day, that a plenary session during the afternoon would again address Germany and the proposal of Mr. Molotov, already firmly rejected by the Western foreign ministers, for a European security pact to displace NATO and the proposed European Defense Community agreement, the six-nation unified army concept.

Senator John W. Bricker of Ohio said this date that if the Senate were to reject his proposed constitutional amendment to curb the treaty-making powers, he would agree to a substitute proposal offered by Senator Walter George of Georgia, that any proposal which could pass the Senate would be acceptable, as he believed that the House would strengthen any such proposal, since all of the members of that body were up for re-election during the year and so would be responsive to public sentiment. He said that he would take what he could get, therefore, in terms of an amendment.

The President asked Congress this date for authority to share limited information on battlefield use of atomic weaponry with friendly allies and to provide private industry in the country a greater share in the development of nuclear power, indicating that those steps would strengthen the defense and economy of the U.S. and of the free world. He said that the 1946 Atomic Energy Act, which had mistakenly assumed that the U.S. would maintain a monopoly on atomic weaponry for a substantial amount of time, had been surpassed by the rush of atomic developments, such that it was now outmoded. He indicated that the launching of the U.S.S. Nautilus three weeks earlier had made it certain that use of atomic energy for ship propulsion would ultimately become widespread, and that since 1946, economic industrial power from atomic energy had developed to the point of a near reality, when it seemed a very remote prospect eight years earlier, and he wanted such peacetime uses of atomic energy subject to being shared with the country's allies under conditions of protections to be specified by the President, consistent with the country's common defense and security, that no secrets would be imparted which would be of military advantage to potential enemies. He said that under existing law, practical information essential to allied participation with the U.S. in combined military operations and planning, and to their own defense against atomic attack, was prohibited. He said that since some allies were already producing fissionable materials or weaponry and developing peacetime uses for atomic power, all of them should become better informed regarding the problems of atomic warfare, thus becoming better prepared to meet the contingency of such warfare.

The House Ways & Means Committee this date approved tax cuts for millions of retired workers, amounting to about 300 million dollars per year, in the form of an exemption of the first $1,200 of annual retirement income from personal income taxes, to take effect in the following year. Under existing law, retirement income got no special treatment except that generally a worker was not taxed on pension or annuity benefits which he had purchased through regular contributions. The Committee had defeated a motion sponsored by some Republicans to limit the exemption to persons with retirement income of less than $5,400 per year.

The White House announced this date the appointment of Admiral Jerauld Wright as supreme commander of the Allied forces in the Atlantic, to replace Admiral Lynde McCormick on April 12. The President was also nominating Admiral Wright to be commander-in-chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet and commander-in-chief of the U.S. Atlantic Command. The Navy indicated that Admiral McCormick would become president of the Naval War College at Newport, R.I., replacing Admiral Richard Connolly, who had recently retired.

In Pasadena, Calif., the trial of the petition of the estranged wife of James Roosevelt for $3,500 in monthly support payments for her and their three children was expected to conclude this date, with an amended balance-sheet filed the previous day stating that as of the previous January 31, the son of the late President had liabilities exceeding his assets by more than $72,000, whereas his wife claimed he had assets worth two million dollars. Only brief testimony was anticipated this date before the attorneys would provide their final summations. The previous day, Mr. Roosevelt had been questioned by one of his wife's attorneys regarding his employment of an attorney to draw up his will, an attorney who had represented a woman in her divorce action whom Mrs. Roosevelt had claimed was one of 12 women with whom he had engaged in infidelity, charges which Mr. Roosevelt had denied. An objection to the question had been sustained, presumably for irrelevance. Mr. Roosevelt also testified that he had borrowed $100,000 from his mother, partly to pay political bills accumulated in his unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign in California four years earlier, saying that he had found that "there is nothing deader than a dead candidate". He said that he had agreed to take out life insurance on the amount of the loan as collateral. Mr. Roosevelt remained a Democratic candidate for Congress, despite calls from the state and national Democratic Party for him to drop out of the race. Eventually, he would remain and win the seat the following November.

In New York, a 21-year old debutante heiress of Park Avenue had the previous day received approval from the State Supreme Court's appellate division to retain the legacy from her great-grandfather's estate, despite the latter having stated in his will that marrying outside the Jewish faith would be a bar to the devise, and her intention to marry an Irishman from Paraguay, formerly a student at Princeton. The couple had intended to marry the previous summer, at which time the prospective bride filed her suit regarding the inheritance. She said that there were no wedding plans at present and declined to discuss her affairs further, as did the prospective groom. A lower court had ruled that she would lose the $10,000 devise and annual income of $6,500 if the terms of the will were violated, but the appellate court ruled that she was exempt from the ban on marriage outside the faith for the fact that her father had designated her as an heir of his estate derived from the great-grandfather, and her father had been granted by the great-grandfather appointive power to dispose of about half of the estate, that the ban had only applied to those specific devisees named in the will of the great-grandfather. The panel had divided 3 to 2 on the decision, with the dissent having concluded that the majority's decision frustrated the intent of the great-grandfather.

In Chicago, a disc jockey, Jack Eigen, had been fired the previous day for kissing a Hollywood starlet, Cleo Moore, for more than two minutes during his television program, in what he had called an experiment to test the reaction of television audiences, the result of which had been revulsion registered by hundreds of female viewers, claiming it to be "vulgarity", "coarseness", and "bad taste". The station, WBKB, told Mr. Eigen that the program had been in "extreme poor taste", not acceptable television fare. The disc jockey said he had no guilty conscience, that he had been happily married for 18 years and his wife had known of his plan for the program, but had not objected. He said the experiment had been inspired by censorship imposed on the length of kisses in movies and that he wanted to see if television audiences were more broadminded than movie audiences, that it was not intended to be offensive, Ms. Moore indicating regret at the results, that she would not have wanted anyone to lose his job over the kiss.

In Charlotte, News reporter Lucien Agniel tells of New York Times two-time Pulitzer prize-winning science reporter, William Laurence, stating that the world was entering a period of peaceful development of atomic energy which would dwarf the Industrial Revolution. He was scheduled to speak this night at a meeting of the Charlotte Executive Clubs at the Hotel Charlotte. During the morning, Mr. Laurence, speaking at a breakfast, forecast a continued era of uneasy peace in the world, paralleling new strides made in development of atomic power, stating that he believed history would show that the U.S. possession of the atomic bomb had prevented Russia from taking over all of Europe following World War II and that ultimately, neither side would be in a position to start aggressive warfare for mutual deterrence, that the U.S. stock of atomic bombs, its variety of weaponry and superior ability to deliver the bomb, plus the country's geographic position combined as an overall deterrent to the Soviets. He believed deterring war even for a transitory period would achieve a balance of power in favor of the U.S., and that the longer war could be postponed, the more likely it would be that the idea of freedom would spread to the backward areas of the world. He believed that within 25 to 50 years, there would be no more Communist systems in the world, and that one way to hasten that time was to make rapid strides in the peacetime development of atomic power, now available for development given that the nation's atomic stockpile of weapons had been adequately built up.

Mr. Agniel's reporting on the arrival of General Marshall at the airport in Charlotte the previous day to visit with his sister, and the exchange of "no comments" between the General and the reporter, the latter's no comment having come in response to the General's question as to how "in the devil” he had known he was arriving on the particular plane, had resulted in the entire country sharing a laugh after the story had been picked up on the Associated Press wires and published all over the country as well as reiterated on NBC radio by John Cameron Swayze. The story indicates that Mr. Agniel had no comment about his new-found fame.

Also in Charlotte, City police disclosed the contents of a would-be suicide note this date, reportedly written by a woman bent on killing herself with a quantity of bichloride of mercury tablets, apparently not certain that swallowing the tablets would do the job, and so at the bottom of her note, which had explained her domestic problems, had appended a request that in case she did not die she wanted to be taken to Memorial Hospital, a request with which the police had complied.

On the editorial page, "Ike's Highway Program Makes Sense" finds that the President's proposal on Federal highway funds was no exception to the old rule that there were two sides to every question. Presently, the Government collected in taxes two cents per gallon of gasoline, amounting to 900 million dollars in revenue annually, providing to the states only about 575 million of the money for road-building, with the gas tax scheduled on April 1 to drop to 1.5 cents. The President had asked Congress to maintain the current tax and increase allocations to the states to 800 million, still, however, 100 million short of the total collected revenue from the gasoline tax.

On one side of the issue were those who believed that the Federal Government should stop taxing gasoline completely and leave it to the states, a position with which the editorial has sympathy while noting that other factors were involved, as well-stated by Representative George Dondero of Michigan at a recent meeting of the American Association of State Highway Officials, in which he had said that repeal of the Federal tax would not mean more money for roads, but less, as the some states might then add back all or a part of the two cents per gallon to their taxes to obtain more road-building funds, while others would reject the idea, creating chaos and confusion and providing no coordinated agency to integrate the highway programs of the several states. He believed, as did the President, that the better answer was a larger share of tax revenue for the states to spend on the Federal aid system, representing only 19 percent of the total U.S. highway mileage but bearing 61 percent of the total non-urban traffic burden.

It finds the President's proposal sensible and that it could be carried further to include the taxes on vehicle parts, tires and lubricants, currently not devoted to building roads. Senator Francis Case of South Dakota had stated recently that the Federal Government did not practice what it preached in the field of taxes, on the one hand urging the states not to divert revenues from highway users to other purposes, under threat of losing a share of the Federal aid to highways, while on the other, the Federal Government, itself, levied taxes on highway users and then used the revenue for general purposes.

"No Long End of the Butter Stick" indicates that Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson was not the best administrator in the world, perhaps a procrastinator who would likely be a political liability in some states to the Republicans, yet had the courage to make an unpopular decision when it was in the public interest, as was his recent decision to reduce the support price for butter.

The previous November, the Commodity Credit Corporation had acquired, on loans, 3.2 million pounds of butter, in December, had acquired over 11 million more pounds, and in the first half of January, had acquired another 13.5 million pounds. During that same period, Government loans on cheese and dried milk had also sharply increased, as did those on wheat, corn and cotton consigned to the Government under the price support program. The result was that CCC funds which had been slated to last until mid-summer had run out this month, prompting Congress hastily to authorize use of another 682 million in support-price funding, probably required to have another billion during the crop year.

It indicates that if the commodities consigned to the Government under the price support program were being disposed of, things would be all right, but the fact that the domestic and foreign markets had not absorbed the products meant that the Government had to pay the high support prices under law, with the result that the surplus was growing increasingly large in CCC storage facilities, increasing by an estimated 1.7 billion dollars worth between June 30 and November 30, 1953, with over a billion pounds of dairy products in Government warehouses by November 30, along with 854 million bushels of wheat, 530 million bushels of corn and six million bales of upland cotton, amounts which had increased since that time.

The effect of Secretary Benson's order would be to decrease the income of dairymen, while lowering consumer prices and decreasing the rate of Government loans on butter. It suggests that it would likely be a pilot project and, if successful, could be applied to other commodities under discretion allotted to the Secretary to adjust support prices. It indicates that despite the farmer getting the short end of the stick, it finds it a wise move, as the consumer and taxpayer had, for too long, not even been able to grasp the stick, which did not have a long end.

The Secretary could have used a theme song to convey broadly the empathy he felt for the dairy farmers, as well as the consumers, to make it clear that he intended not to stick it to either group, that his intentions were honorable in the premises, to achieve balance between the increasing surpluses of butter subject to spoliation in the warehouses and a fair price for the consumer, while unburdening the taxpayer from the shackles of so much support of the farmer, so that everyone could be happy, with more, better butter on the table and less in the warehouse—the 90 percent of parity price supports having clearly been a Commie-inspired plot from within the New Deal-Fair Deal Administrations, probably dreamed up by former Agriculture Secretary Henry Wallace, to create the excess storage, which would lead inexorably in its intended course through time to the irresistible impulse to feed the godless Commies in Russia at much lower than parity prices or even those lower prices paid by red-blooded American consumers, albeit limited in how low it could go because of the removal of the surplus from the market, unlike in the good old days of unregulated laissez-faire under President Hoover.

"It's Doggoned Hard To Figure" tells of Charlie, a big, friendly collie down the street, and his friend Tinker, who had lived in Charlotte before he came to the county via the pound, having been talking as dogs did, by the big willow oak at the bottom of the lot, starting a discussion on taxes which it recounts, having to do with the inequities between city taxation and the undeserved benefits to the county derived therefrom without the burden of the heavy taxes, in the end, Charlie saying to Tinker that if his city friends were so incensed about tax inequality, they should get more interested in the county commissioners race coming up and work for candidates favoring consolidation.

A piece from the LaGrange (Ga.) Daily News, titled "It Is To Laugh", indicates that it was envious of any howl of laughter, as its own laughter was no more than a "hee-hee", worrisome to the writer. A jovial person was the target of every television comedian and made everyone feel good around him. Everyone had their own characteristic form of laughter, some turning red in the face, others laughing so hard that tears came to their eyes, characteristic of the writer.

It concludes that laughter when people took themselves too seriously and laughter when they did not take themselves seriously enough were good things, that more laughter was needed, even that of the hee-hee variety.

Bill Sharpe, writing in The State magazine, tells of the sixth of the known petroglyphs within North Carolina having been rediscovered by Dr. N. Jones of Newton, a "rockwriting" fan. It was known as Petty Rock, having been described as early as the 1880's, when the late Dr. J. M. Spainhour of Lenoir County had sent a report on it to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, indicating that it had been observed by the first settlers of the area and was believed to have been nearby an Indian burial ground. Dr. Jones had located the rock the previous summer in the Yadkin River, about three miles below North Wilkesboro, observed that it was a granite boulder about 30 feet long and three to five feet wide, its highest point rising about four feet out of the water, and that the writing on the rock was known as cup-sculpture, the simplest form of ancient stone-cutting, with the 225 cups on the rock generally scattered without apparent order, perhaps representative of a map or a census of the tribe. He hypothesized that perhaps other markings had been eroded through time, and that the cups might have been carved by a race antedating the Indians.

One of the other five petroglyphs in the state which had attracted the attention of Dr. Jones was Paint Rock, a cliff on the north bank of the French Broad River, on the Tennessee border. In 1854, a correspondent had written an extravagant account of that rock for the Raleigh Registrar, which Mr. Sharpe quotes, adding editorially that it was no wonder that the "wandering" correspondent had written it up under a pseudonym. That cliff was about 100 feet high, with scores of gorges in the state more impressive, but because of the petroglyphs, was the object of attention, with a 1799 Boundary Commission reporting that stains on the rock resembled figures of humans and beasts, though the only stains still evident were from oxidation of iron, taking a lot of imagination to see anything else.

Another of the petroglyphs was called the Garden Track Rock, located 2.5 miles from Burnsville on the Asheville highway, with strange carvings covering about ten square feet, according to Dr. Jones, indicating that it compared with carvings found on a rock in Georgia, suggestive of authorship by a hunting party. One other such painted rock existed west of Winston-Salem and a fifth could be observed near Creston in Ashe County.

The best such rock was near LaPorte in Jackson County, called Judaculla, with carvings covering the entire surface of about 500 square feet, carved by a group preceding the Cherokee, who disclaimed authorship of it, but offered a legend that Judaculla, a giant, had owned the Judaculla Old Field Bald, a mountain on the Tennessee Ridge, which he had cleared for a farm, and that leaping from the mountain into the lowland, had landed on the rock producing the carvings with his foot. The meaning of the carvings had not been deciphered, but, concludes Mr. Sharpe, they must have been important as no one would do all of that chiseling for nothing.

Drew Pearson indicates that the inside story of how Republican Congressman Ernest Bramblett of California had been tried and convicted could now be told, with his prosecution having caused the firing of five Democratic lawyers who did not want to prosecute him, having been overruled by the new Justice Department under Attorney General Herbert Brownell, the latter having been charged with playing politics in certain cases, but, indicates Mr. Pearson, not in this case. Toward the close of the Truman Administration, the Democratic central committee in Santa Barbara, part of Mr. Bramblett's district, had sent a telegram to then-Attorney General James McGranery, indicating that Mr. Pearson had filed with the Justice Department a charge that Mr. Bramblett had obtained salary kickbacks from his employees, and urging prosecution before the new Administration came into office and whitewashed the matter, the criminal division then deciding, with only a few days left, to leave it to the next Administration. Mr. McGranery, however, less than a week before the end of the Administration, had issued a letter ordering the prosecution, with the result that the matter did not come up until the following March, after the new chief of the criminal division, Warren Olney III, got settled into his office. At that time, a recommendation had passed to his desk that Mr. Bramblett's charges be dismissed, something Mr. Olney normally would have approved, as those making the recommendations were familiar with the case. But being new to the office and from California, he examined the case himself and became quite skeptical of the recommendation by the five Democratic-appointed attorneys in the office, believing that either a fix had been arranged to save Mr. Bramblett or a trap had been laid to embarrass Mr. Olney as the new head of the criminal division. Thus, he asked that the entire file be turned over to an independent attorney of his choosing. That attorney found several important documents which had been omitted from the file transmitted to Mr. Olney, one of which had been Attorney General McGranery's firm recommendation of prosecution, listing several laws which Mr. Bramblett had violated, and the other had been a notation that Mr. Bramblett's attorney, Edward Bennett Williams of Washington, had called the Justice Department a few days before the end of the Truman Administration, stating that he was acquainted with Mr. Olney and sought favorable consideration for Mr. Bramblett. Later, it was discovered from court testimony that Mr. Bramblett, at about that same time, had phoned his campaign manager and told him that there was nothing to worry about, that everything would be "fixed".

As a result of the discovery of those omitted documents, Mr. Olney called in the five Democratic-appointed attorneys and fired them for withholding the critical information, and then ordered the prosecution of Mr. Bramblett to proceed.

James Marlow suggests that historians might describe the Berlin foreign ministers conference as two tigers moving close to examine each other again and then withdrawing to watch and wait while they sharpened their claws. The three Western foreign ministers, Secretary of State Dulles, Anthony Eden of Britain and Georges Bidault of France, had talked for four weeks with Russia's V. M. Molotov, with neither side at the outset expected to yield anything, an expectation fulfilled. History might consider it a tragic disappointment if it were to become the last chance for the Big Four to settle their differences peacefully before global warfare. It was the latest in a series of talks, the last one having been in September, 1949, and, ventures Mr. Marlow, others might ensue. If so, the present conference might only wind up a footnote to history.

At the time of the first breakdown regarding Germany and Austria, the U.S. and the other Western allies had been practically unarmed while Russia had built its arsenal continually since the end of the war. Yet, because the U.S. had the atom bomb and Russia did not at that time, there was a deterrent to an attack on Europe, no longer extant. In the meantime, in addition to detonating its first atomic bomb in 1949 and its first hydrogen bomb in 1953, Russia had clinched its hold on the satellites, grabbing Czechoslovakia in 1948, and the Chinese Communists had taken over mainland China in 1949. While at the end of World War II, the Soviets ruled 200 million people, Communism now extended over 800 million persons within the Soviet empire and in mainland China.

Meanwhile, the U.S., under threat from the Soviets, had developed the hydrogen bomb and built up its atomic arsenal to the point that it was becoming more reliant on atomic weaponry and less on manpower and conventional weaponry, and, with the Western alliance in Europe, had emerged from disarmament to rearmament and formation of NATO in 1949. When Russia had threatened Greece and Turkey, former President Truman had abandoned traditional American peacetime isolationism with the Truman Doctrine of military aid to those countries, beginning in 1947. When Russia tried to force the Allies out of Berlin with its blockade of 1948-49, the U.S. undertook the year-long airlift of supplies to West Berlin, finally breaking the blockade. When Communism had threatened impoverished Western Europe from within, the country responded with the Marshall Plan of economic aid, first suggested in spring, 1947 by General Marshall and then implemented by Congress in the spring of 1948. When the North Koreans invaded South Korea in late June, 1950, the U.N. allies, principally the U.S., blocked the incursion with a war which lasted three years and had concluded the prior July with an Armistice.

A letter writer from Myrtle Beach, S.C., comments on the editorial "TVA and Reds Are of Public Concern", indicating that open hearings were desirable on both of those topics, when closed hearings had recently occurred as to each. He thinks it an unfortunate linkage of ideas, extols the virtues of TVA, having a positive effect on the health of the area it served, which formerly had been impoverished, as well as supplying atomic power for the new atomic plant in South Carolina and the World War II plant at Oak Ridge. He finds it far from socialism, rather the result of common sense. He says that when he had come to Myrtle Beach in 1943, the power system had been lousy, and so the communities sold it out to Santee Cooper, establishing reserves of power for a poor state in which no private company could ever establish itself, providing great benefit to the people, who owned the plants, the lakes and the projects. Even hurricanes did not interrupt supply of electricity for long, noting that he was the hurricane officer for the area and thus spoke from knowledge on the point. He believes that the public would benefit from open hearings regarding TVA, of which he was a strong supporter.

A letter writer indicates that such early Americans as Roger Williams, John Marshall and Horace Mann had been great Americans, their genius still benefiting countless people. He urges that those living in the present should look to the future, that all persons, irrespective of race or color, were entitled to an abundant life, suggests that many black people would approve of segregation in the public schools if separate facilities were truly equal, whereas there were white people who believed integration was a more ethical system than segregation. He believes that the Supreme Court would and should outlaw segregation, but that whatever the decision would be, it was necessary to have the "moral stature to live together in peace and goodwill”, a duty as conscientious citizens.

A letter writer from Spartanburg, S.C., who had initially mailed a check to the News, representing four percent of his weekly salary, with the advice from the editors, who returned the check, to deliver it directly to the U.S. Treasury, says that he had done so, requesting that it be applied to reduction of the national debt. He indicates that a special assistant Treasurer had responded, acknowledging with thanks receipt of his communication and the check, indicating that it had been deposited to the Treasury to become part of the general fund, from which all expenses for the Government were paid pursuant to Congressional appropriations. The note had thanked him for his patriotic spirit. He urges that if such spirit were to catch on in the country, the national debt could be eliminated in a relatively short time.

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