The Charlotte News

Saturday, April 17, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Vice-President Nixon, in an off-the-record address to the annual meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, had said the previous day that U.S. troops might be used in a last-ditch effort to save Indo-China, prompting challenges from both Republican and Democratic members of Congress. The Vice-President said that he did not believe such action would be necessary because he believed Indo-China could be saved from the Communists by other means, but that in the unlikely event that French forces would withdraw, the U.S. might then have to send troops. Originally, the remarks were to be attributed only to a "high administration source", but they had been linked to the Vice-President by the London Times. The Niles Daily Star of Michigan had also reported that Representative Clare Hoffman of Michigan had opposed the statement, and attributed it to Mr. Nixon. The attribution gave the statement added weight as an expression of Administration policy, as the Vice-President participated in National Security Council and Cabinet meetings.

Norman Isaacs, managing editor of the Louisville Times, told the American Society of Newspaper Editors this date that expert studies of journalistic bias indicated that only a handful of newspapers slanted their news stories, but that the few which did had considerable influence. He said that in 99 percent of the cases of domestic reportage, writing and reporting had been accurate, careful and precise, but that in international coverage, there was some evidence of emotional writing, that a press association dispatch on the recent Berlin conference had reported that Secretary of State Dulles had "made a speech", while also reporting that Soviet Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov had "unloosed a tirade". Robert Notson of the Morning Oregonian of Portland said in another address to the same group that proposals before the New York State Bar Association to ban the release of pretrial information on criminal cases would jeopardize freedom of the press and the right to a fair trial, and that if it succeeded in New York, it would soon be established in other states.

It was reported from Hanoi this date that waves of Dakotas and Flying Boxcars had dropped men and equipment to the besieged French fortress at Dien Bien Phu, while the Vietminh attackers clung to dugouts only 800 yards from the heart of the fortress, despite heavy ground fire and air attack. A French high command spokesman said that the reinforcements would be held in reserve for critical moments during the ensuing anticipated third major Vietminh assault, expected probably prior to the start of the Geneva conference on April 26. French soldiers, backed by planes, tank and artillery fire, had counterattacked against the Vietminh rebels at all points. French drives against the Vietminh units entrenched in the northern part of the main airstrip supplying the fortress had failed the previous day to rout them.

In Augusta, Ga., the President, in a message to defenders of the fortress, said that they were demonstrating "qualities on which the survival of the free world depends." He saluted the "gallantry and stamina" of the commander, newly promoted from colonel, Brig. General Christian de Castries, and the soldiers who were defending the fortress.

A high-level member of the Administration said that he believed Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer was a "loyal American" even though the information in his file was voluminous and made a case of a security risk. The official had contact with the case of Dr. Oppenheimer since 1948 when he had been questioned by a Congressional committee.

Housing administrator Albert Cole said that early criminal prosecutions could develop out of a "full administrative cleanup" of the FHA scandal, and promised top-level firings. The President the previous day had given a directive to all Federal agencies to cooperate fully with the Administration's probe of the alleged multimillion dollar rackets under the FHA loan insurance program in the home repair and apartment construction fields. Two Congressional committees were scheduled to begin hearings on the matter the following week.

In St. Louis, two children had raided their piggy banks of eight dollars in pennies and nickels to help their father pay an $18 traffic fine the previous day, but the city judge who imposed the fine reached into his own pocket and reimbursed the children after learning of their benevolence. Their father had been charged with driving his car to the left of a streetcar, his first traffic offense in more than ten years of driving.

In Chicago, two gunmen had robbed a man of $300 in his grocery store the previous night and then argued about whether to force him into his walk-in meat cooler, finally deciding to put him in the refrigerator after he assured the robbers that he could get out without freezing.

In Dunn, N.C., it had rained ducks, as at least 26 of the quackers, each weighing between two and three pounds, plunged from a cloudy sky during a thunderstorm, falling on residential lawns, with some hitting a street in the business district, all with broken necks. It was believed that they had been struck by lightning, which had caused a $500,000 fire at a tobacco warehouse.

In London, evangelist Billy Graham continued his crusade in Britain, indicating that the only defense against the hydrogen bomb was deep faith in Christ. He had been moved to make the statement by the decision of the City of Coventry, bombed repeatedly during World War II, to give up its civil defense program because it had been convinced there was no adequate defense to modern weapons. He continued to draw large crowds at London's Harringay Arena.

In Charlotte, a community-wide Sunrise Service would begin early the following morning at Freedom Park and at the North Charlotte YMCA in celebration of Easter Sunday. Thousands would attend the services and bands from local schools would participate in the musical part of the program. Several local ministers would participate in conducting the services.

On the editorial page, "First the Stick, and Now the Carrot" indicates that the countries around the North Atlantic had for some time been getting on each others' nerves, that Americans were weary of subsidizing Europe and were impatient with the delays in approval of the European Defense Community to provide for a unified army among six nations. Europeans were fearful that the U.S. would stop sending troops and money, and were disturbed by the influence of isolationists and irresponsible members of Congress. The gap between continental Europe and Britain, the U.S. and Canada had widened. France and Italy appeared more reluctant than ever to approve EDC, fearing that unless the U.S. and Britain were closely aligned with them, Germany would dominate the EDC.

But during the week, the British had announced a formal agreement to remain on the continent as long as the Russian threat continued, promising more cooperation for EDC. The previous day, the President had pledged that U.S. troops would remain in Europe as long as the threat to its security continued. He had also promised an effort to integrate the Atlantic defense forces, as opposed to the previous effort to integrate the European defenses. He also said that the U.S. would seek greater exchange of defense information among the Atlantic allies. The President had been seeking to reassure Europeans regarding American intentions and thus hasten approval of EDC by France and Italy, the only two of the six nations which had not yet ratified the plan. Secretary of State Dulles had sought the same ends when he had warned Europe to approve EDC quickly or face an "agonizing reappraisal" of European policy by the U.S., translating into a reduction of troops and aid.

It concludes that the Secretary had been using a stick while the President had dangled the carrot, the latter being usually preferable, especially when dealing with sovereign and proud nations.

That figure, given its timing, suggests France and Italy as the Easter bunny, delivering up the eggs.

"Suggestion for Our Congressmen" indicates that a study of Congressional voting during the first three months of the year had provided some significant information about Senators Clyde Hoey and Alton Lennon, as well as the Tenth District's Congressman, Charles Jonas. Senator Hoey had the best voting record, taking a stand on 30 of 32 issues which were decided by roll call votes, while Senator Lennon had responded to the roll call only 21 times, below the average for the Senate. He had been home campaigning part of that time for the upcoming primary with former Governor Kerr Scott. By pairing, or responding to a Congressional Quarterly poll, he had recorded his stand on six of the 11 bills on which he had not voted. Representative Jonas missed one of 14 roll call votes in the House and did not declare himself on that issue to Congressional Quarterly.

It goes on to provide some further detail, and indicates that the decision of the Senators and the Congressman to place themselves on the record most of the time during the year would be supplemented by indicating at least their declared positions on the roll call votes which they had missed.

"Scheidt's Safety Campaign Pays Off" indicates that commissioner of the Motor Vehicles Department, Ed Scheidt, had provided the "Bloodshed Boxscore" for the year, with 219 killed, against 272 to the same date the previous year, plus 1,166 injured through February 1, compared to 1,212 during the first month of 1953. Mr. Scheidt's highway safety program appeared, therefore, to be working. The downward trend had begun the previous October and every month since that time had shown a decrease in deaths and injuries from the corresponding month a year earlier. During March, there had been 50 traffic deaths, the least number in six years, and 21 below the number of March, 1953. Meanwhile, automobile and truck registration was increasing.

The campaign of effective enforcement of the existing traffic laws, plus an educational campaign, had produced the desirable results. The next step was to modernize the statutes, which it urges the 1955 General Assembly to do.

"Of Filters, Findings and Facts" indicates that during the week, the Wall Street Journal had reported that tobacco companies had launched a campaign of counter-propaganda related to cigarettes causing cancer. Large ads with detailed findings of medical research would issue. It indicates that only the previous week, it had given up cigarette holders and filters, switching back to the dangerous brand, presumably Camels. It found that life had returned to normal. But then the controversy had again recurred, and more warnings against cigarettes would follow publication of the claims being made by the tobacco companies. It suggests that they let it die. "We've had—puff, puff—enough."

To be completely accurate, "puff, puff" should be replaced by "cough, cough". Sorry, but like most cigarette addicts, you are in denial that your habit is puffing away your life while you slowly but surely commit suicide, not to mention the second-hand smoke homicidal tendencies, unreckoned in 1954.

A piece from the Twin City Sentinel in Winston-Salem, titled "A Problem in Nationality", indicates that a baby girl had been born on St. Patrick's Day while at sea aboard an American liner, to a Latvian-born resident of Rio de Janeiro who boarded the ship in a Brazilian port. Latvia no longer existed as a nation and the mother had been a stowaway, resulting in her and the child being placed ashore in Brazil. An immigration inspector said he did not have the time to straighten out the nationality of the child. The baby was unaware of the problems it had caused the adult world.

It suggests that a baby was a clean slate to be written upon, a twig to be bent, a stateless, raceless individual without religion, prejudice or morality. But the baby nevertheless had traits, potentialities, weaknesses and strengths, which would be realized or not according to the impositions on it by the adult world. Too often, it suggests, the consequences were dismal, that the best in the child was thwarted, dwarfed and perverted, while the worst grew "like weeds in an abandoned field". It suggests that perhaps the trouble with children was that they had to be raised by adults. It wishes the child born at sea the ability to sleep well while she could.

Drew Pearson indicates that the three-person loyalty committee presently probing the matter of Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer would find, if it probed deeply enough, that if the admirals and generals had followed his advice in 1944, Russia would not presently hold the Kurile Islands, one-half of Sakhalin and the southern end of the Manchurian peninsula, that the Joint Chiefs had in their files debates between generals and admirals showing why they admitted Russia as a war partner in Asia and why they had been willing to provide important territorial concessions in return for the Red Army participation at the end of the war in the Pacific. The reason had been that, at the time, prior to the mid-July, 1945 test of the atomic bomb, the U.S. military had no confidence that it would work. They also believed it would take months or even a year to subdue the Japanese military and so wanted the Red Army to harass Japan from the rear. Dr. Oppenheimer had vigorously disagreed on that point, telling his superiors that the atomic bomb would end the war and that Russian participation, along with that of the U.S. Army and Navy, would thus be unnecessary. Admiral William Leahy, General Marshall and General Leslie Groves, the latter the military leader of the Manhattan Project, would not listen, and so the U.S. provided Russia those important territorial concessions. Dr. Oppenheimer, however, had been correct.

Diplomats were so numerous in Washington that it took a special directory to tabulate them, with some of the larger embassies having several hundred attaches, secretaries, translators and chauffeurs. Some of the smaller embassies did not obtain mention in the social columns. Ambassador Tran Van Kha of Viet Nam was waging a diplomatic struggle to keep his country and the other two Indochinese states, Cambodia and Laos, from being overtaken by the Communists. In 1943, Tran had been jailed by the Vietminh, who had developed as an armed rebel force at the time of the Japanese occupation during the war. When the British had disarmed the Japanese, he managed to escape and since had been minister of national economy and vice-president of the French Union Assembly. The Ambassador said that U.S. supplies and technicians were all-important to the Indochinese war, but that U.S. mass manpower would not be so crucial, as Viet Nam would have a half million men of its own by the following year from a new conscription plan. He said that he believed that if the U.S. intervened, it was likely that the Communist Chinese Army would also intervene, and he also believed that if Indo-China were to fall to the Communists, so would all of Southeast Asia.

The FBI was working with Scotland Yard to track down the author of threats to Queen Elizabeth, a letter having been written to her in red ink, mailed in England, similar to one received in Washington by the director of the National Archives.

It cost $668,000 per year to provide Secret Service protection for the President, his family and the Vice-President. Good that the figure was not $666,000, or it would, undoubtedly, be grounds for a conspiracy that Satan was behind the Secret Service.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop indicate that one of the principal accusations against Dr. Oppenheimer was that he had attended a closed meeting of the Communist Party held at his home in Berkeley in 1945, as alleged by Paul Crouch, a former Communist turned informant. The Justice Department apparently considered Mr. Crouch to be reliable as he was regularly employed at $25 per day as an expert witness by the Department. The Alsops question, however, whether Mr. Crouch in fact was reliable, state that if he was, then Dr. Oppenheimer was a liar, as he had denied that any such meeting had ever taken place. If Mr. Crouch was telling the truth, then Dr. Oppenheimer also had been a secret Communist throughout the wartime period when he was working on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos developing the atomic bomb.

The original charge had been made by Mrs. Crouch in May, 1950, before the California State Committee on Un-American Activities, CUAC, indicating that in addition to Dr. Oppenheimer, another scientist, Joseph Weinberg, had also been present at the meeting, which supposedly occurred July 23, 1945, just a week after the first atomic test at the Trinity test site near Los Alamos. In September, 1952, Mr. Weinberg, who had been known as "scientist X", was indicted on a perjury charge regarding his testimony before HUAC, one of the three counts having been that he falsely denied having attended Communist meetings generally, the result of the testimony of Mrs. Crouch.

Dr. Oppenheimer had been subpoenaed to testify in the matter for Mr. Weinberg. Dr. Oppenheimer's lawyers had anticipated that he might be called as a witness and had therefore instituted an exhaustive investigation of his whereabouts in July, 1945, and discovered that he had spent the whole time between July 4 through the first week in August at his ranch in New Mexico, in the general vicinity of the atomic test site at Alamogordo. Documentary evidence, in the form of telegrams and utility bills and other such evidence, had been marshaled to support that claim. Mr. Weinberg's lawyers had made a similar investigation and found that his fiancée, who had since become his wife, had been ill at the time causing him to spend the whole time between mid-June and mid-August at a small California resort town, Banning, about 500 miles from Berkeley, where the meeting was supposed to have taken place at Dr. Oppenheimer's home. His lawyers also presented documentary evidence to support the claim. All of the documentary evidence was made available to the assistant U.S. Attorney and his assistants from the Justice Department, and, in the end, neither Mr. nor Mrs. Crouch was ever summoned to testify in the case regarding the supposed meeting, resulting in that count being dismissed against Mr. Weinberg. He was subsequently acquitted on the other counts.

Mr. Crouch had boasted of his "imaginative powers" and, posit the Alsops, there was much to suggest that he had given those powers free rein. He had, numerous times, contradicted himself during his career as a paid informer. The failure in the 1945 instance to call him as a witness showed that the Justice Department also on occasion doubted his reliability. They indicate that it was not in defense of Mr. Weinberg that they set forth the facts, or even of Dr. Oppenheimer, for whom they indicate their admiration, but rather in defense of the concept that the credibility of an ordinary American citizen should be given equal weight to that of a professional former Communist.

They conclude that if the current investigation established that Dr. Oppenheimer was telling the truth, and not Mr. Crouch, regarding the meeting, then the words of the judge at the trial of Mr. Weinberg would be further validated, when he said that he was amazed that the Justice Department would employ Mr. Crouch as a member of its staff.

Marquis Childs, in Rome, indicates that Premier Mario Scelba, in a conversation with Mr. Childs just after the Premier had applied iron discipline to his Christian Democratic Party to whip it into line behind the Government's new tax program, had spoken frankly of the difficulties ahead, that in his view the question of Trieste had to be settled before it would be possible to obtain a meaningful majority in the Parliament behind ratification of the European Defense Community, the key to U.S. foreign policy in Europe. He said that his Government was a center coalition, with a nominal majority of only 14 members, and that it was essential to obtain votes from the right-wing Monarchists and even from the neo-Fascists so that the EDC unified army plan could be approved with sufficient votes to impress the country of its widespread support. He regarded the EDC as a revolutionary concept because the Italian Army could no longer be used as an instrument of foreign policy in that event. He said that if the dispute over Trieste should be prolonged after Italy had surrendered sovereignty over its Army, the Army could not be used as a last resort in that dispute, a matter of objection by the right-wing groups, necessitating the early resolution of the Trieste problem.

The Premier said that the Communist danger in Italy, where the largest Communist Party in Europe existed outside the Soviet Union, had to be frankly recognized and could not be eliminated by sudden arbitrary action. His Government had pledged to end many of the Communist privileges presently enjoyed, such as printing of publications in Government-owned buildings. But beyond those relatively simple actions was the more difficult task of getting rid of the Communists who had, after the end of the war, taken over hundreds or even thousands of buildings formerly belonging to the Fascists, occupying them legally and paying rent, one of the major resources of the party. The Government was also seeking to end the Communist-controlled trading companies which dealt with Russia and the satellite nations, with the intent to set up a State monopoly on that trade.

But the main source of funding for the party was Moscow, itself, as the party in Italy was of primary importance to the Kremlin's plans.

The Premier differed with the policy enunciated by U.S. Ambassador to Italy Clare Boothe Luce, taking away from factories with Communist-dominated unions dollar contracts for military materiel under the U.S. aid program. He took the view of the major industrialists who insisted that such a policy would create more unemployment and therefore more social disorder by making Communism the more attractive.

Another tough problem was the effort to obtain a tax law providing jail sentences for filing false returns, after the law had been changed three years earlier to provide for nominal fines, having little or no deterrent effect, resulting in large losses of revenue.

Reginald Stewart, of the Baltimore Sun, writes that there were too many professional musicians in the country and too few amateurs, that Haydn and Mozart had written their greatest works for the amateur musician because 95 percent of the people who made music at the time were in that category. The public school systems were doing an excellent job in providing students with an experience in music, but after graduation, the students tended to put aside that musical interest, which he believes was partly the result of professional musicians occupying the field to the exclusion of the amateur. He asserts that there was the need for more adult opportunity for amateur string quartets and participation in community orchestras, bands and choruses, or just playing piano for the family at home. He indicates that one did not have to be a genius to participate in music, that almost anyone could learn enough to qualify in the second violin section of an amateur orchestra, and that a few years of study at a conservatory of music would make the person almost indispensable.

He makes it sound rather easy, but it is not so, we trow. Oh, we suppose that anyone can sing, even if quite off key and badly, but playing a musical instrument with any tuneful ability is only "easy" to those who can do so and have done so since a young age. Many of us simply do not have that particular aptitude, just as some people cannot construct the English language properly or spell properly, do not have the necessary building blocks arranged from a young age to do so effectively. And, indeed, often the accomplished musician has great trouble with ordinary syntax and language, the language of music and its flow being quite different from written language.

An unknown author, on this eve of Easter, 1954, tells of the legend of the dogwood tree, originating from the Crucifixion of Christ, at a time when dogwoods were said to have attained the size of oaks and other forest trees, were so strong that the wood was chosen for the cross. Thereafter, Jesus promised mankind that for the pity shown for his sufferings, the dogwood tree would never again grow large enough to be used for a crucifixion cross, would henceforth be slender, bent and twisted, with its blossoms issued in the form of a cross, with nail prints, brown with rust and stained with blood, on the petals. In the center of the flower would be a crown of thorns so that it would be recalled that it was the dogwood which had been used in the Crucifixion.

It also, of course, might be the case that the dogwood flower simply lent itself well to that after-the-fact ascription, suggesting the question of which came first, the dogwood as the cross or imputation to the cross of dogwood constituency, subsequently engrafted as myth—similar to the myth of Hyacinthus and the hyacinth.

In any event, we do know the dogwood when we see it, even if having trouble with identification of some of the other flora and forest trees, such as the hyacinth, it being Greek to us. It's not our bag.

A letter writer from Cheraw, S.C., indicates that Chesterfield County needed a hospital so that people would not have to travel miles to visit relatives who had to be hospitalized. The State Legislature had, in the previous session, voted against a hospital for the county, voting as the "big money" was asking them to do.

A letter writer indicates that in a recent editorial, the newspaper had quoted an Army expert as stating that it took 40 feet to stop a car going 20 mph, a fact with which he differs, contending that a car with well-adjusted hydraulic brakes could be stopped by any driver with a reasonably rapid response time in not more than 20 feet and perhaps in as few as 12 to 15 feet, that he had conducted tests to confirm the hypothesis, as he describes. He suggests trying that test on a level surface with dry pavement.

But what if you are proceeding downhill on a rainy day in an old jalopy at the time of your fatal accident, thinking that you could have stopped in 20 feet, when in fact it took twice that distance, maybe more? Then you cannot go back to the drawing board and try to figure out what went wrong with your test. The best rule of thumb is the two-second following distance, that is to pick a mark on the road ahead and count 1,001, 1,002, between the time the car in front passes that mark and the time you do, that generally allowing for a safe stopping distance, albeit to be extended in inclement weather appropriately, all the while not taking one's attention unduly from the road ahead to conduct the brief check, and, of course, only slowing gradually if passing the designated point early, not suddenly stamping on the brakes, oblivious to the Mack truck behind you. Once established, the following distance becomes second nature and needs no regular check.

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