The Charlotte News

Monday, April 19, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in New York, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., said this date, before the Associated Press annual luncheon, that Communist China was giving substantial aid to aggression in Indo-China and that it was "unfit" to join the U.N. He provided ten reasons why the U.S. would resist any effort of the Chinese Communists to "bribe" their way into the U.N. with promises of future good behavior. The other nine points are also provided, none of which referred to Indo-China, though in one point indicating that Communist China sponsored guerrilla and subversive movements in Malaya and throughout Southeast Asia.

It was reported from Hanoi that the French had fought furiously this date to hold back a Vietminh assault hitting toward the center of the French fortress at Dien Bien Phu from the northwest, having entered into a newly menacing position after weekend fighting widened their break in the northwestern rim of the defense system of the fortress, capturing a second outpost the previous day and withdrawing the previous night into trenches on the main airstrip of the fortress. Vietminh pressure was also reported to be increasing against the southernmost strong point of the plain surrounding the fortress. Bayonet-wielding French infantrymen had driven the Vietminh from airfield entrenchments for a few hours the previous day, but the latest infiltration had re-established their foothold just 880 yards away from the bunkers of the French headquarters. A French Army communiqué said that heavy fighting in the sector still raged this date, that French tanks and artillery had blasted the Vietminh taking cover in trenches running across the northern part of the airstrip, with French Union troops charging them in hand-to-hand encounters, with losses, according to French spokesmen, on both sides.

In Paris, Brig. General Christian de Castries, newly promoted commander of Dien Bien Phu, was still having supply difficulties, according to the French Press Agency, reporting this date that the General's two stars, parachuted to him from a French plane on Saturday to replace his insignia as a colonel, had fallen behind the Vietminh siege lines. The rebels had also obtained 200 liters of cognac intended for his command.

William L. Ryan, Associated Press foreign news analyst, in Singapore, reports that in northern Indo-China this date, one found it difficult to shake off the feeling of standing by and watching a nation slowly dying. Viet Nam, one was told, could be saved, but all the solutions involved time, which was running out. In Tonkin in the north and Cochin China in the south, he had attempted to sift all shades of opinion, French, Vietnamese and American, the optimistic and the pessimistic, the wishfully thinking and the bluntly realistic, and had concluded that unless the West held fast at the Geneva conference, to start April 26, Indo-China would become another Communist-dominated people's democracy. Among the questions uppermost in people's minds in Saigon and Hanoi were whether Viet Nam was to become another Korea, whether it could be saved short of powerful military intervention, and whether it was the "sputtering fuse of World War III". There was a long, hard road ahead for the French and the Vietnamese if the country were to survive, and if it did not, the best military opinion from Americans was that the West could write off most of Southeast Asia in the vast political and economic war. The French and Vietnamese, despite superiority of equipment and much greater firepower and economic advantage, still were fighting a defensive war after 7 1/2 years of jungle warfare because Ho Chi Minh and the other Communists who led the Vietminh were fighting the war on three fronts, military, political and psychological, while the French and Vietnamese had been waging only a military war, with little attention to the other two fronts. Ho directed powerful propaganda to areas not yet within his grasp and there had been little to counter it. His iron discipline, rigid control and total mobilization in areas he controlled were met by the other side with half-measures. General Rene Cogny, the French commander in Northern Indo-China, and Maj. General Thomas J. H. Trapnell, retiring commander of the U.S. Military Assistance Group, appeared to agree completely that it was impossible to separate the political and psychological from the military aspects of the war. Among the French who were willing to speak frankly, there was an admission that Ho had a strong grip on the imaginations of a large number of illiterate, landless peasants and even on the intellectuals outside the areas he controlled. The Vietnamese masses knew nothing about global war between democracy and Communism, and to many of them, Ho was a nationalist, a patriot who was going to drive out the foreigner and give the peasants land. That was in contrast to free Viet Nam, where there was no cohesive force, no ideal or leader who could capture the imagination of the whole people.

Senator Thomas Kuchel of California proposed this date, during an interview, that the U.S. seek U.N. action and avoid any single-handed military attempt to save Indo-China from the Communists. An increasing controversy had arisen since Vice-President Nixon had stated on Friday that the country might send troops to Indo-China as a last resort should the French withdraw, Senator Kuchel saying that he did not believe the country could "put fires out all over the world single-handedly." He advocated taking the case before the U.N. and asking for united action, as the country had done with respect to the invasion of South Korea by North Korea in June, 1950.

The State Department had issued a statement on Saturday, indicating that the Vice-President had not enunciated any new policy with respect to Indo-China, and Secretary of State Dulles, on his way back to Washington from a brief vacation at Lake Ontario, had no comment. There were, however, reports that the Administration had asked for and not received assurances from Democratic and Republican leaders that if the worst occurred, they would back single-handed intervention in Indo-China. Democrats were said to have backed away from giving in advance what some of them called a blank-check for Presidential action, and Senate Majority Leader William Knowland of California said in a weekend interview that he was confident that the President would ask for prior approval from Congress if it became advisable to use American combat units in Indo-China, including air and sea task forces.

In Washington, Senator McCarthy met with fellow Senators to establish ground rules for the investigation of his dispute with the Army, and insisted that he have the right to question witnesses at the televised public hearings, which were scheduled to begin the following Thursday. Some members of the Investigations subcommittee, which he normally chaired but had turned over the gavel temporarily to Senator Karl Mundt for purposes of conducting the special investigation, were opposed to his questioning of witnesses, and Senator Mundt indicated that the question might ultimately have to be decided by the full Senate. Senator McCarthy was leaving late this night on a flight by private plane to Texas to deliver a San Jacinto Day speech at Houston on Wednesday. Chief counsel for the subcommittee, Roy Cohn, and staff member Francis Carr also attended the closed-door meeting, and Mr. Cohn said that a bill of particulars outlining their case was not yet in final form, though the Senator had assured that such a bill of particulars for his case would be provided, if the subcommittee wanted it, by this night.

On Ieshima in the Ryukyu Islands, deceased journalist Ernie Pyle was honored this date on the ninth anniversary of his death, having been shot by a sniper shortly after having arrived in the Pacific theater from the European theater, in the closing months of the war. More than 300 Americans joined island officials and residents in paying tribute to his memory for having chronicled the lives of the ordinary American foot soldiers during the war.

Corporal Edward Dickenson's court-martial trial began in Washington this date, on the accusation that he had informed on his fellow prisoners of war while a captive in Korea. The key question raised by his counsel, a retired Army colonel, was whether the nine Army officers who would try him believed that under Communist pressure, a soldier could be held to blame for divulging more than his name, rank and serial number, per the military code. The prosecutor had objected to the voir dire on the ground that it was arguing the merits of the case, but the court permitted the question to be answered by each of the nine officers, possibly a preliminary maneuver to a challenge of the tribunal by the defense.

In Washington, the ousted commissioner of the FHA, Guy Hollyday, testified before the Senate Banking Committee this date that he knew, when he had taken office a year earlier, that "unscrupulous promoters" were active in the home repair loan field and that he had tried to stop their abuses. He said that he put through new regulations and was satisfied that they would go a long way toward preventing improper practices.

In Oklahoma City, the parents of a nine-year old girl believed that they had witnessed a miracle on Easter, as their daughter stopped breathing and came to life again after being hit on the head by a swing at a school on the previous Wednesday. The only initially visible harm to her had been a scratch above her ear, and after the pain had subsided, she returned to class. Upon going home that evening, she had felt well enough to go to a movie. But then suddenly she lapsed into a coma and failed to regain consciousness on Thursday. Doctors brought her to Oklahoma City and she remained unconscious for another day, and on Saturday morning, had appeared to draw her last breath. Doctors and nurses arrived to provide artificial respiration and it was decided that only an emergency operation would save her. During the operation, doctors said that she again stopped breathing, but the surgeon had discovered the trouble, a blood clot on her brain. On Easter morning, the girl came to life again, awakening from her deep sleep, and her parents said it was the happiest Easter they had ever had.

What was the movie? Oh, no, whipper-snapper, smart aleck, we got hit in the head by a swing a long time ago, more than once.

In Detroit, a 27-year old autoworker at Chrysler was notified that he had back wages coming, receiving $19.02, but after deductions and a wage garnishment, got only a penny.

Donald MacDonald of The News indicates that in Charlotte, a police detective had disclosed this date that a safe had been robbed of more than $10,000 in cash from a women's clothing store on Saturday night, discovered after a beat patrolman had found the rear door of the store open while checking his beat early Sunday morning. Detectives said that only three persons employed by the company knew the combination of the safe and the manager said that she was certain that she had locked it before leaving on Saturday evening.

Sounds like maybe it's an inside job, not an outside job. What do you think? In any event, you had better check inventory also, because it could get a lot worse before it gets better.

In New York, British bit-part actress Simone Silva, who had upset the decorum of the Cannes Film Festival with brash posing without her top while caressing actor Robert Mitchum recently, proclaimed this date that she was "out to beat" Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe as a Hollywood actress. She said that they had been there long enough and she now wished to reign. She arrived at Idlewild Airport from London aboard a TWA plane. She said that Mrs. Mitchum had witnessed the episode with her husband and "was mad" about it, but she could not understand why because she had been the one who caught a chest cold. She asked why, if a girl had a figure, she shouldn't show it.

She might be able to land a part in the upcoming film, "Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Missing Palace-upon-Thames Bust (Or the Busted Pallas Masterpiece Goes Missing upon Bust)", her role being rather obvious, the Shadow, however, knowing only for sure.

On the editorial page, "What N.C. Needs Is More Taxpayers" indicates that the previous month, some of the community's newer citizens had an unpleasant surprise, having come to the state from the Northeastern states, along with their companies, moving south. Some of them had been looking forward to lower income taxes, having heard about the attractive tax rates in the South. But the people from Maryland had found that the state income tax was actually higher in North Carolina than in Maryland, at least for persons in middle and upper income tax brackets. For North Carolina did not permit deduction of such items as gasoline and sales tax from the computation of state income tax, as did Maryland. And sales tax was a percentage point higher in North Carolina than in Maryland. Similar disparities existed with respect to Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, plus a few other states, Rhode Island and other states not levying any state income tax.

The newcomers thus initially concluded that the state must be mismanaged, for while taxes were higher, state services were fewer than in the Northeast. But the truth was that the state's finances had not been mismanaged, but rather that there were not enough taxpayers in the state to raise sufficient revenue. It provides various relative statistics showing why North Carolina was in 45th place among the states in average per capita income, at $1,049 per year. For about 30 percent of North Carolina's families, income was less than $1,000 per year in 1949, and more than half the families had a total income of less than $2,000, while almost 70 percent of families in the Northeastern states had incomes above $2,000. If per capita income in the state equaled the national average, there would be enough revenue available to put many substandard state facilities on par with those in other states.

It concludes that what was needed were new, high-paying industries, better pay scales in the native industries, which, absent a minimum wage law, paid sweatshop wages, and more job opportunities for blacks. More taxpayers, not lower taxes, were needed.

"This Loophole Should Be Closed" indicates that the Administration's new tax bill had been termed a boon for the rich man, but if the Senate approved certain provisions which the House had written into it, the bill would close some loopholes by which the wealthy had been evading taxes. It provides an example, similar to that provided below by Drew Pearson, and indicates it could not see much difference between that type of loophole and some of the graft uncovered in the housing probe. The House version of the new tax bill said that full taxes had to be levied on the amount by which borrowing exceeded a corporation's original cost for property, a provision which it regards as being fair, but would withhold its applause until the Senate and joint reconciliation conference committee finished their work.

"Time for Prison Decision Draws Near" indicates that North Carolina was the only state which had its prison system under the jurisdiction of its highway department. Expert penologists had strongly advised against that organization, with Dr. Austin McCormick strongly recommending against it after making a survey in the state in 1950, a stand similarly taken by the prison advisory council. The previous week, Lt. Governor Luther Hodges—to become Governor by the end of the year upon the death in November of Governor William B. Umstead—had said that the state needed to determine that its prisons did not belong to the highway department and that it wanted to rescue the bulk of people who went into the prison camps and mental hospitals. The Governor was preparing a plan for separation of the prisons from the highway department, to be submitted to the General Assembly in early 1955.

It indicates that the improvement of the prison system or its continuance as an antiquated system would depend on the caliber, therefore, of the persons elected to the Assembly the following month. It urges sending from Mecklenburg County five strong advocates of separation of the prison and highway departments.

"Two New Aids, and Two Old Rules" indicates that forest fire fighters would have two new aids during the year, television and cloud-seeding. Closed-circuit tv cameras were being placed in mountain towers in Louisiana, doing the job of spotting fires formerly required by eight spotters. In Montana, U.S. Forest Service officials were trying to induce rain to fall to "de-electrify" the clouds near the Rocky Mountain breeding areas, thus reducing lightning which was the source of many fires.

With summer and mountain trips coming on, it urges recollection of two simple rules, not to throw away lighted tobacco or matches and to be sure that campfires were extinguished before leaving them.

A piece from the Greensboro Daily News, titled "On Carrying Queens up Steps", indicates that the Wilmington Azalea Festival had included golf, gardens, parades and the coronation of a queen, and the master of ceremonies, radio announcer Grady Cole, had carried Miss America of 1952-53, Neva Jane Langley, up stairs in a rainstorm, outdoing Sir Walter Raleigh laying down his cloak for Queen Elizabeth to walk over the mud puddle. Mr. Cole wound up with a dislocated vertebra and it suggests that it led to several conclusions, that it was dangerous to try to outdo Sir Walter, that Mr. Cole was not in training for his avocation of carrying beauty queens up long flights of steps, that by the time a girl got to be a beauty queen, she had acquired a certain amount of weight esthetically distributed, and so was not to be taken lightly.

You need to apologize for implying that she was heavy.

Drew Pearson indicates that part of the housing scandals under investigation had occurred during Democratic Administrations and part under the present Republican Administration. Much more money had gone to big builders under the Democrats, though it appeared to have been legal, whereas chiseling under the Republicans was more petty, more widespread and just as mean. Under the Democrats, the graft occurred between 1941 and 1950 under section 608 of the Housing Act, providing for Government insurance of private construction loans on apartment houses for rental. The loans were supposed to have been guaranteed by the FHA at the rate of 90 percent, but FHA officials sometimes approved a markup of the loans to as high as 130 percent of the building's cost, in one case going to 150 percent. Thus, a builder might obtain a million dollar loan on an apartment house which would cost him only $800,000 to build, then pocket the difference as clear profit even before construction had begun. He could report that profit as capital gains and pay only 25 percent tax. The FHA estimated that those profits amounted to about 100 million dollars, while the IRS placed it at nearly 500 million. The Government had not lost any money on those deals yet, and any losses would occur only if the banks were unable to collect the loans. In 1950, Congress had abolished section 608.

Under the Republicans since the beginning of 1953, the graft had taken the form of shakedowns under section 1 of the Housing Act, providing for Government insurance on loans for home modernization and repairs. It enabled crooked contractors and salesmen to overcharge and swindle homeowners, as FHA officials who were supposed to oversee loans for such repairs had been remiss and looked away. In one case, for instance, a homeowner had been charged $1,600 for asbestos siding and roofing installation, though it had cost the dealer only $400 to do the job, with the dealer and three of his salesmen splitting the profit. That racket had become so widespread that organized groups of salesmen devoted their whole time to it, traveling from city to city, persuading unsuspecting homeowners to sign contracts for the modernization and repair of their homes. Since the Government guaranteed the loans, the homeowners assumed that they had to accept the figure set by the salesmen, no matter how high it was. There were presently 14 FHA officials in the Washington office under investigation for failing to halt the practice, with charges against two of them expected to result in criminal prosecution.

Bishop Bernard Sheil had, 15 years earlier, denounced Father Charles Coughlin, who, like Senator McCarthy, was splitting the country along religious lines at the time. The Bishop had been attacked for his stand and it had probably resulted in him losing the archbishopric of Chicago. He was now the first prominent Catholic prelate to stand up and denounce Senator McCarthy, and was also being bitterly attacked for it in some circles. Bishop Sheil had begun as a great athlete, once being invited to join the Chicago White Sox, before eventually becoming chaplain of the Cook County jail and beginning Golden Gloves competition on the theory that the way to reform boys who fought in the streets was to give them some place off the streets to fight in a regulated format. He was now sick and ailing, and twice during the winter had suffered from pneumonia. He had been a bishop for 25 years, longer than any other bishop in the country. Regardless of his health, at age 70, his spirits were high and he had not lost the courage to keep fighting for the rights of men.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop indicate that they had some "cheerful" news about the prospect of a hydrogen bomb being detonated in the United States, that there would still be some people left afterward. Until recently, it had been generally believed by the specialists that there might be no one left at all after the next war, one reason having been the theoretical development of the cobalt bomb, encased in a thick jacket of cobalt which would become radioactive in the atmosphere and potentially destroy all human life on earth. Another reason was the fact that the hydrogen bomb increased the total of radioactive carbon-14 in the atmosphere, and that detonation of a few hundred such bombs might suffice to render all of the human race sterile.

Dr. E. O. Lawrence of California had seen the cobalt bomb as an instrument of "denial warfare", which, with prior warnings to the population, might be relatively humane, and the Defense Department had begun reviewing possible uses of it as early as the summer of 1950 when it first became clear that a hydrogen bomb could be constructed. But there were built-in limitations to the cobalt bomb, because of its immense size, and the need for a much bigger airplane or rocket to carry it than currently existed. It was also not possible to control it, meaning that it could as easily wipe out friendly life as inimical life. In consequence, the experts had abandoned that project and it was to be hoped that the Soviet Union had done so as well.

As for the potentially limitless power of the hydrogen bomb, a phenomenon known as "the limit of blowout", as covered previously by the Alsops, limited the lateral destructive effect of the bomb to about 20 miles, and so, while the experts emphasized that no one could be absolutely sure, with so many imponderables involved, it appeared that the destruction of the entire human race was beyond the limits of human ingenuity.

Doris Fleeson indicates that Congressional leaders would obtain the best spots at the Democratic gathering on May 5 and 6 for the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner, at which Adlai Stevenson would be master of ceremonies but would not provide a principal address. It was hoped that former President Truman would accept a role as a roving reporter and duck in and out of the panel discussions.

The question most often debated was whether Governor Stevenson would be the inevitable Democratic nominee in 1956. Look magazine had polled 48 Democratic Senators, and 33 believed he would be the nominee, while 15 said otherwise, 25 saying that they wanted him at the head of the ticket and the other 23 providing various replies, such as that it was too early to say or that some new faces might yet come to the fore. But there was no runner-up in the tally and so it was the conventional wisdom that if the convention were being held presently, Mr. Stevenson would win on the first ballot.

A Minnesota poll conducted by the Cowles newspapers, publishers of Look, showed that 49 percent of voters were for incumbent Senator Hubert Humphrey, with 34 percent for his challenger. A Texas poll by Joe Belden, considered a reliable barometer, showed that while 62 percent of Texans still liked the President, there was growing criticism which was unlikely to subside unless times were to get better prior to the election, a reduction of 12 percent of support for the President since the prior August. Mr. Belden found that two-thirds of Texans felt a change for the worse had been occurring in the economy since the beginning of 1952 and that 30 percent of rural voters and 20 percent of urban voters believed that the Administration wanted to reduce farm prices further. The Denver Post reported during the week that a Colorado poll showed fewer than half of the state's residents believed the President was doing a good job.

Robert C. Ruark, in the Supkhar Range in India, finds that cold peacock was very tasty if one liked peacock as he did, especially with mustard pickles. The area was like a country club in Connecticut and was as unjungly as Westchester County, but was nevertheless prime tiger country, and a ten-minute walk put one right in the lap of a tiger. No day passed without a tiger killing a native cow or buffalo and dragging it off to the jungle.

He finds the night noises of an Indian jungle fantastic, with the peacock crying stridently, the female sounding as if she were saying, "Halp!" and the male saying, "Meeow," sounding as a human imitating a cat. The doves mourned at dusk and the ravens squawked and chuckled ghoulishly. Then came night. "There are cheerful screams and screams like damned souls. There are bell sounds and shrieks and liquid, rippling notes. There are pops and gurgles and croaks and crashes, whispers in the bush and stealthy steps. There is the chatter of a hyena and the yapping of a jackal."

Then the jungle became still and a shadow slid from the deeper shadows and merged with the black blob of the slain buffalo. For five or ten minutes one lived four or five thousand years, and then appeared the tiger, "evil-eyed, bloody-mouthed, his wide ruff stained with blood, looking straight at you as he crouches snarling over his kill." He suggests that a tiger at night should be seen by everyone once, "if only to inform of what a short distance they have traveled since they came down from the trees to walk erect as men."

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