The Charlotte News

Thursday, April 29, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the President this date, at his press conference, declared anew that the U.S. was not going to become involved in any war in Indo-China unless Congress declared it. He said, however, that a proposal presently pending before Congress to prevent the sending of American troops to Indo-China or any other place in the world without prior Congressional approval could not fail to damage his flexibility in handling the situation. He said that because the Geneva conference was ongoing and was dealing with the situation in Indo-China, it would be inappropriate for him to speculate on the situation and potential negotiations for peace. He also said that he did not intend to become involved in state and local political races, but would get around the country some to discuss his legislative program submitted to Congress.

From Hanoi, it was reported that French warplanes had attacked Vietminh troop concentrations through cloudy skies this date, as well as hitting ammunition dumps and supply routes out of Communist China leading to the besieged French fortress at Dien Bien Phu. The French high command indicated no important land fighting around the fortress, as French Union defenders continued artillery duels with the Vietminh who were seeking to capture the heart of the Dien Bien Phu plain. Transport planes, warding off Vietminh anti-aircraft fire, parachuted more tons of ammunition and other war supplies to the besieged fortress. The Vietminh had increased pressure on the southernmost strong point of the fortress, cut off from main French lines, in scattered fighting the previous day.

Representative Robert Sikes of Florida, a member of the House Appropriations subcommittee which handled Army funding, proposed this date that the U.S. supply the French with atomic bombs for use in Indo-China to "get the war won so we won't have to send American boys there." He said that he opposed sending U.S. forces without prior Congressional approval but would back maximum material aid to the French.

In Geneva, Soviet Foreign Minister V. M. Molotov told the Far East peace conference this date that he agreed entirely with the Asia-for-Asians declaration of Chinese Communist Foreign Minister Chou En-lai the previous day. Mr. Molotov stated that a peaceful solution to the Korean problem could be found if the delegates proceeded on the principle that peoples of Asia had the full right to settle their own affairs. On the whole, the speech of Mr. Molotov had been mild, without personal attacks on Western political figures, although he did indicate that the U.S. had pursued an "aggressive course" with regard to Communist China, in turn affecting the whole situation in Asia. He contended that the Communist Chinese had committed no aggressive acts against the U.S. but that the situation was different when considering U.S. policy regarding Communist China. He spoke after Australian Foreign Minister Richard Casey had told the conference that some U.N. troops might have to remain in Korea until the peninsula was unified under a democratic government. Many of the diplomats present were convinced that such unification might never occur, or at least not in the near future. A French source indicated that informal talks between Russia and France to produce a temporary truce at Dien Bien Phu to enable evacuation of the wounded French troops inside the fortress, had virtually collapsed, that Mr. Molotov and French Foreign Minister Georges Bidault had exchanged heated words at dinner the previous night, with Mr. Molotov expressing surprise that M. Bidault had brought up the subject in the context of a discussion of the nations which would participate in the settlement of the Indochinese question. M. Bidault had replied that he was just as surprised that the Russians had violated confidences by disclosing his request without notifying the French beforehand.

In the sixth day of the hearings before the Senate Investigations subcommittee regarding the dispute between Senator McCarthy and the Army, Secretary of the Army Robert Stevens testified that he was concerned that the commander of Fort Monmouth in New Jersey, Maj. General Kirke Lawton, had been moving too fast against alleged security risks the previous October, and that it was "entirely possible", though he did not recall it specifically, that he had asked Army counsel John G. Adams to call the General to ask him to withdraw some of the suspensions he had made. Mr. Stevens was confronted with a statement by General Lawton that Mr. Adams had telephoned him early in November, urging him to "dismiss certain security cases" at Fort Monmouth, a primary Army radar research center. Special counsel for the subcommittee during the hearings, Ray Jenkins, produced the memorandum, which had just been dictated in his presence, he said, by General Lawton. Mr. Jenkins contended that it was of vital importance to the claim of Senator McCarthy that Secretary Stevens sought to stop the Senator's investigation of alleged subversive activity at Fort Monmouth, a claim which had been denied by Secretary Stevens. The rigorous examination of the Secretary brought a protest from Army special counsel Joseph Welch, indicating that Mr. Jenkins was proceeding as if it were a murder trial. The Secretary swore that he had no recollection of the telephone conversation between Mr. Adams and General Lawton. Secretary Stevens recalled that the previous October 31, he had talked to Maj. General George Back, chief signal officer at Fort Monmouth, and had told him that he wanted the Army's commanding generals to exercise "careful and good judgment" in carrying out the Government's program to weed out security risks. He said that he told General Back that he did not want the removal of employees at Fort Monmouth to be done so rapidly that people would be suspended without sufficient evidence to support the action. He recalled that he had said that he was apprehensive that General Lawton might be moving in that direction and was concerned that unfair suspensions would occur. He had told General Back that he wanted employees out if there were any doubt about their loyalty, but wanted the security screening done in a fair way and not just on the basis of meager or nearly non-existent information. He further testified that between the beginning of 1953 and March, 1954, the Army had weeded out 170 individuals as security risks, where there had been a "loyalty connotation". After five and a half days of questioning, the Secretary was obviously weary but declined an invitation by Senator John McClellan of Arkansas to rest from the strain. Mr. Welch asked that there be no prolonged examination by Senator McCarthy when it came his turn to undertake questioning of the Secretary.

Private G. David Schine was ordered this date by the Army to report to the staff of the Investigating subcommittee, for which he had previously worked as an unpaid aide before being drafted into the Army the prior October. He had previously told the Army that he would not volunteer to appear but would attend if ordered to do so. The subcommittee had decided the previous day to invite Private Schine to attend the sessions, accompanied by counsel if he wished. Private Schine would be called to testify during the afternoon session this date, in which he disclosed having a butterscotch sundae the prior Monday at the Colony Restaurant in Washington with a small group of people, including usual chief counsel for the subcommittee Roy Cohn and subcommittee staff member Francis Carr, one of the latter of whom had requested that he bring with him the photograph of himself with Secretary Stevens, taken the prior November 17 at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, the subject of the proceedings two days earlier. In the above-linked abstract of the day's telecast of Mr. Schine's testimony, the Private is flanked behind him on his right by Army counsel Mr. Welch and on his left by Army co-counsel James St. Clair, who would represent President Nixon during the Watergate scandal twenty years hence.

The President, at the end of his press conference, in answer to questions, said that he had never heard of Private Schine, and did not wish to comment on the ongoing hearings other than to say that he hoped the matter would be concluded quickly. No one, not even May Craig, had the temerity to inquire of what he thought of a butterscotch sundae on Monday, with or without a cone chaser. Of course, that testimony had not yet been taken at the time of the press conference, and so, since one would not expect of the press corps the intuitive, past-qua-prologue augury of Betty Boyer, maybe next time.

Attorney General Herbert Brownell, speaking before the Economic Club of New York the previous night, said that the Justice Department was starting a probe of the automobile industry for possible antitrust violations because of a "developing pattern of concentration". He said that the Department wanted to know whether the concentration was the consequence of competitive forces or the product of collusion or suppression of competition. Congressman Shepard Crumpacker of Indiana had introduced a resolution the previous month charging that independent automakers suffered from what he termed high pressure competitive practices by Ford and G.M. No action had been taken in Congress on the proposal. He had also asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether Ford and G.M. were trying to monopolize the auto industry and whether their battle for sales leadership had violated antitrust laws. Thus far during the year, Ford and G.M. had accounted for slightly less than 84 percent of the automotive market, and Chrysler had 12 percent, while the small independents accounted for only four percent. Ford and G.M. maintained that their production merely reflected public demand for their products and denied that they were forcing cars on dealers through overproduction, as alleged by Representative Crumpacker.

In Washington, in the court-martial of Cpl. Edward Dickenson, accused of informing on fellow prisoners of war in North Korea and collaboration with the enemy, the defendant declined to testify this date in his own behalf. The case was expected to go to the eight-member court after closing arguments by each side, following eight and a half days of testimony. The defense had closed its case by presenting testimony from an Army major that the Chinese Communists had told the corporal that if he went home, he "would suffer physical harm and possibly be killed" and that "even his family might be harmed". Cpl. Dickenson had initially chosen to remain in captivity and refused repatriation along with the other allied prisoners, per the Armistice the prior July, but then had finally changed his mind.

The proposed site for the Air Force Academy near Charlotte would be inspected the following morning by the site selection commission, headed by General Carl Spaatz. Charlotte was competing with several other cities, including Colorado Springs, the eventual site selected for the Academy. The proposed site around Charlotte was near Huntersville, eight miles northwest of the city, extending to the banks of the Catawba River.

On the editorial page, "Pork on the Installment Plan" indicates that both houses of Congress had passed a bill, presently in reconciliation conference, to provide a third way for the Government to acquire property, in addition to purchase or lease. The new way was a "lease-purchase", whereby a community would erect a building and the Government would sign a contract under which it would pay the purchase price by installments plus 4.5 percent interest per annum over a period of between 10 and 25 years.

It indicates that the plan would delight politicians because the incumbent administration could authorize construction in districts where it needed support and the construction costs would then not show up in the budget until many years later.

The bill had been championed by Republicans, with 36 Republican Senators and only 11 Democrats having voted for it, with 25 Democrats and four Republicans voting against it. Both Senators Clyde Hoey and Alton Lennon of North Carolina were among ten Senators who had not voted or recorded their position on it. Liberal Democrats, such as Senators Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota and Warren Magnuson of Washington, had joined Southern conservatives in opposition to the bill. Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia had said it might be the greatest pork-barrel legislation ever created, and Senator Olin Johnston of South Carolina had called it "a real estate dealer's darling".

It urges the President to veto the bill.

"For a Distinguished Visitor, a Welcome" discusses the upcoming May 18 visit of the President to Charlotte for Armed Forces Week and the May 20 anniversary of the purported signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, indicates that the fact that the district had elected a Republican Representative to Congress, Charles Jonas, for the first time since the father of Mr. Jonas had been elected in 1928, had caused both Republicans and Democrats to stress the district, with a visit by Adlai Stevenson having occurred on April 2. It suggests that Charlotteans would welcome the President warmly as they had welcomed him as a candidate on September 26, 1952, and thanks him for accepting the second invitation.

"A Stopgap Measure, but No Answer" indicates that in instructing Police Chief Frank Littlejohn to intensify patrolling in the vicinity of Charlotte hospitals, the City Council had adopted a stopgap method of giving added protection to nurses who worked at night. It could be argued just as logically, however, that women on the night shifts of the knitting mills needed extra protection, and that there might be others in the same category.

It tells of the larger problem being that the police force was already spread too thin, as the Chief complained that he had only 1.2 policemen per thousand persons of population, whereas the national average of industrial, urban areas with mixed population was 2.2 per thousand. Thus, he needed nearly twice the force which he presently had to meet the national average. He contended further that Charlotte's force was smaller in proportion to population than most of the major Southern cities which had identical behavior problems in black areas.

It indicates that the Council would soon begin a study of the budget for the following fiscal year and that undoubtedly it would have before it a plea from the Chief for additional police officers, that the growth of the city and the increasing traffic problems alone would justify such an increase, that the accompanying increase in all types of crime made it imperative.

"Men, Science, Birds and Boys" indicates that metal "pigeon slides" had been erected at the St. Louis City Hall to cause the birds to slide off the roof, that Cincinnati officials were considering spreading a chemical compound which would irritate the feet of birds on roofs, ledges and eave troughs, that in Detroit, they were using "silent sound", supersonic waves, inaudible to humans but disturbing to starlings, and in State College, Pa., two professors had tape-recorded the squawk of a scared starling, amplified it to 120 decibels, and Civil Aeronautics Administration officials had broadcast it inside starling-infested hangars. It indicates that the starlings had left hurriedly but pigeons gathered around to listen.

Now, there was an effort to try to record an eagle's scream, on the theory that it would frighten almost any bird away. But most birds, with the exception of starlings, appeared not to want to be recorded.

In Mecklenburg County, while cats were natural enemies to birds, men and science had not yet sought to eliminate their presence. There had been some legitimate complaints before the County Commission that boys had been shooting song birds, but, it posits, the remedy for that was not to impose greater restrictions on shooting in the wide-open spaces of the county, as had been suggested to the commissioners. There was a state law against shooting song birds. It ventures that there were birds which were pests and which ought to be shot, and many other birds which should be protected, that most boys were eager to learn the difference, and existing laws of trespass were sufficient to minimize destruction of the useful birds.

It concludes that birds were fine creatures and that shooting was an art to be encouraged, that firm parental counsel to overzealous boys, rather than more laws to restrict them, would help protect the useful birds and the sport of shooting.

Take your birdshot and go climb a tree.

A piece from the New Republic, titled "Free Beer", indicates that during a tour of the Far East the previous winter, Vice-President Nixon had driven through a part of lower Cambodia and found that each time he had spoken the name of the President, the natives had roared their approval. It indicates, however, that it had learned that the name "Dwight" sounded very much like dwalekt, which meant "free" in lower Cambodia, and that "Eisenhower" was close in sound to iekendowad, the local beer.

That's probably how he got the country into Cambodia, by simply saying to Lon Nol, "Dwight Eisenhower for all the people if you get rid of Prince Sihanouk."

Drew Pearson indicates that the troubles which Secretary of State Dulles was having at Geneva had been anticipated by him before he had departed Washington. He had outlined them fully and pessimistically during a closed-door session of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He had received a report from the U.S. Embassy in Paris that the French were becoming increasingly divided and that anything could happen, even a revolution. He had told Senators that there was no telling what the French might say to the Russians privately at Geneva. Democrats insisted that the country should not rush France into granting independence to the three Associated States of Indo-China. The Secretary reported that he had an appointment to meet Viet Nam's Emperor Bao Dai in Paris during an earlier trip but that he had never shown up. Senate Majority Leader William Knowland, friendly to Formosa, wished to know why Formosa and South Korea had not been included in the proposal to form SEATO, the Southeast Asian version of NATO, and the Secretary responded that not everything could be accomplished in a week, acknowledging that Formosa might later be invited to join the proposed organization. The Secretary told Senator Alexander Wiley, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, that his expressed concern about Russia trying to use the Geneva conference to obtain world recognition for Communist China was unfounded, as the U.S. would not recognize it at Geneva under any circumstances.

Mr. Pearson notes that Secretary Dulles had asked the Congressional leaders to push through a resolution approving in advance any action the President might decide was necessary regarding Indo-China, but both Republicans and Democrats had overwhelmingly opposed the idea.

Though most Senators feared Senator McCarthy and few would criticize him publicly, no more than three or four actually liked him for the fact that he was essentially a showman and not a Senator. His attendance record was the worst in Congress because he was often out making speeches across the country instead of taking care of Senate business. Not a single piece of legislation of any importance had ever passed Congress bearing his name.

In contrast was Senator Allen Ellender of Louisiana, in Congress for 18 years. While the average Northern newspaper reader had not heard much about him, it was because he did not brag about his accomplishments. But some of the most constructive bills in Congress had been introduced or co-authored by him, including the Wagner-Taft-Ellender Housing Act for slum clearance, various sugar-quota bills, Federal aid to education, the original farm price support bill, and the school-lunch program. Sometime earlier, he had gone to South America to study Communist infiltration there, and upon his return, had given a comprehensive, closed-door report to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Other Senators, including Senator McCarthy, had listened closely as he told how poverty, dictatorship and agents from Moscow had combined to spread the Communist doctrine in Guatemala and, to a lesser extent, in some other Latin American countries. The following day, Senator Ellender received a call from Senator McCarthy, indicating that he had heard his report the previous day on Latin America and wanted him to testify before Senator McCarthy's Investigations subcommittee the next day, for television and radio broadcast. But politely, Senator Ellender declined, explaining that his report had been meant as constructive criticism, not to obtain publicity.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop indicate that Joint Chiefs chairman Admiral Arthur Radford had cut short his European mission and returned to Washington to consult on the increasing crisis in Indo-China, suggestive of the gravity of the situation. Meanwhile, the American people were becoming confused because of conflicting statements about it from the Administration.

Initially, the Government, though somewhat disturbed over the continuing war, was still hopeful that General Henri Navarre's "victory plan" would prove successful. But the previous March 20, General Paul Ely had arrived in Washington, after a tour of Indo-China, with the news that the French had abandoned hope of winning the war on the existing basis and that their belief was that, absent a "new basis" for the war, they would have to negotiate a settlement. That advice was a shock to the Government and between March 25 and March 29, the policymakers engaged in an anguished debate, out of which Secretary Dulles prevailed, despite the doubts of the budget-balancers and the politically-minded. The National Security Council decided unanimously that Indo-China had to be saved.

Secretary Dulles decided that the "new basis" of defense would be "united action" by the countries with a vital interest in Southeast Asia, preventing by military force, if necessary, a Communist victory. The Secretary made a speech to that effect on March 29, and then in early April called for the creation of SEATO.

Then, Vice-President Nixon made off-the-record comments to the press, indicating that the U.S. would send in troops to Indo-China were the French to withdraw.

It was hoped that the concept of "united action" would persuade the Communists to reach an acceptable settlement at Geneva. But then, in mid-April, General Navarre notified the Government through military channels that the French could not hold Dien Bien Phu, again prompting the NSC to meet to discuss the situation. On that occasion, the NSC decided not to intervene because U.S. air support could not save the French fortress.

The inevitable fall of Dien Bien Phu would be certain to have unpredictable political consequences in France. French Foreign Minister Georges Bidault was nearly as against peace through appeasement as was Secretary Dulles, but he would be placed in a nearly impossible position with the defeat at Dien Bien Phu. The French neutralists had been predicting disaster all along and the fall of the fortress might well cause the fall of the Laniel Government in France and its replacement by a neutralist regime committed to a settlement in Indo-China on any terms.

Doris Fleeson also regards the crisis in Indo-China, indicating that the previous weekend, the foreign ministers of the East and West had met at Geneva to confer about Asia, and that dispatches from the talks preliminary to the start of the conference the prior Monday indicated that the U.S. would not enter the war to save Indo-China from Communism. Politicians at home, who had been anxiously watching the situation, suggested that the country had resisted a new Asian venture to the point where the White House felt it could not risk taking the initiative on Indo-China.

Through such resistance, she suggests, Americans effectively had sanctioned the right of Secretary Dulles to bargain at Geneva and get the best temporary solution which he could obtain. It was being reported that he hoped to remain in the background so that any negotiated agreement would not appear to have the imprimatur of the Administration.

The Congress had refused to provide the President a blank check to act without Congressional approval should an emergency arise, pointing to their mail which indicated that people were not ready for the new test. The governors, present in Washington for their civil defense conference, reported that their constituents were also of two minds, still unprepared for a final step. Influential editors and publishers had resisted Vice-President Nixon's statement regarding conditional U.S. direct military involvement in Indo-China and several said that they would oppose it.

Ms. Fleeson indicates that there would be some dissatisfaction aroused by the change of pace by the Administration, but shrewd judges of Congress did not believe that the President would encounter serious opposition as he struggled with a situation appearing to defy rational solution.

Robert C. Ruark suggests that the frustrated writer was the saddest and most illogical of people. The thought had come to him after reading of a phony doctor who had been illegally performing surgery for six years and getting away with it, had then been sent to jail after he tried to peddle his memoirs to a magazine. He indicates that if he had stayed away from a typewriter, he would still be practicing surgery illegally.

He also read about a person in Canada recently who had claimed to be a spy, fooling the experienced Quentin Reynolds who had written a book about him, as well as the publisher who had put it out. He, too, would have remained out of trouble if he had not peddled his story.

He indicates that the reader could not imagine the number of unsolicited manuscripts which a professional writer received and how many hundreds of thousands such manuscripts went to newspapers, magazines and publishing houses. Everyone secretly appeared to want to be a writer and wanted to know if the solicited person could help them shape their offering so that they could make a fortune.

He says that he wrote easy and fast and did not write at all until he knew beforehand what he was going to put on paper, that he had never improved a piece by putting it through the typewriter a second time, usually tossed the obvious dogs into the wastebasket and started afresh. He indicates that he could not fathom why anyone would want to be a writer, as it was the "lonesomest business in the world, shut off in some bleak room with a lot of old papers and nobody to talk to." He suggests that it was why a lot of writers drank too much, because doing research and gathering material was dull and writing it down was "bitterly lonesome". Adding to the misery was the fact that one never knew whether it was any good or not.

He also indicates that people would constantly ask how he had gotten into the business and he always told them that he did not know. He had fallen in love and gone to sea, and, to avoid starvation, got a job mixing paste and running errands on the Washington Daily News, after doing a lot of "menial things in menial places". He had a wonderful teacher for three years at that newspaper and taught himself, by writing and not being able to sell anything, the trade of magazine writing, which was nearly as standardized as building a house. He acknowledges that there were compensations, as the hours were short because a person would drain more out of oneself in two hours at a typewriter than a ditch digger would during an entire day. The money was good if one were lucky and could work constantly. The writer could be eccentric and sloppy in dress, and if he drank too much, everyone would say it was all right because he was a writer.

He indicates that in entering his 20th year in the trade, he often wondered if his brain would be less calloused and his digestion better if he had taken up hod carrying, truck driving or interior decorating. He indicates that he found himself thinking of that question more frequently as the pages got longer and the words got smaller every day.

If we may be permitted an observation on Mr. Ruark after reading his stuff for a few years now, his problem appears to be, leading to his premature death in 1965 at age 49 from long-term excessive drinking, that he never fully got over the fact that he went to college at UNC at an early age and thus graduated early, nevertheless appearing, at least by the perhaps unreliable gauge of college extracurricular activities, as having become reasonably well-adjusted to college life socially, and entered the world at 19, ill-equipped emotionally to handle adult pressures, and then spent his career in writing primarily focused on himself and his attempts to escape himself through safaris and the like, rarely writing about much of anything which would ordinarily be of interest to a college graduate, being more inclined to try to emulate the feats of his idol and occasional associate in Pamplona at the running of the bulls, Ernest Hemingway, a poor idol to have, who, in our opinion, also, after his first couple of books, wrote little which would be of interest ordinarily to a college graduate, largely appealing to the adolescent's perceived need for escape and adventure beyond one's immediate reach, writing in "minimalist" style, ingratiating to the youngster not too interested in broadening the reach of the vocabulary and thereby the ability to conceptualize beyond one's purely personal experiential data to a broader world view, confined by institutional requirements of basic education and cultural refinement and the consequent perpetual, insistent need then to rebel against same to feel somehow whole and properly primordial, to prove that one was not acculturated, "bent out of shape from society's pliers", to borrow a phrase. It is just an observation we make with intent for it to be salutary for others who might aspire to the life of adventure to escape the boredom of ordinary adult responsibilities through overindulgence in solipsism, daily crying in one's beer, so to speak.

A letter writer indicates that on April 17, an editorial had appeared indicating the voting records of North Carolina's Senators and Representatives, citing Senator Lennon as having taken no stand on several measures having to do with excise taxes. He indicates that while the editorial was technically correct regarding recorded votes, it did not properly reflect Senator Lennon's position on excise tax reduction, furnished to him by the Senator's administrative assistant. He proceeds to explain the Williams-Byrd amendment to continue all excise taxes except those on admissions to entertainment functions, which had been contrary to the position previously announced by Senator Lennon, favoring reduction of the taxes on admissions and also co-sponsoring a floor amendment with Senator Paul Douglas of Illinois to reduce excise taxes on household and kitchen appliances. He had voted for final passage of the bill which had reduced excise taxes and had paired with other Senators on matters about which he had the facts when he was not in Washington.

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