The Charlotte News

Saturday, April 3, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports from Hanoi that the weary French Union defenders of Dien Bien Phu had resisted wild new Vietminh attacks this date, fending off the Communist rebels a mile from the heart of the besieged fortress. French counterattacks, backed by tanks and heavy artillery fire, had destroyed every Vietminh mass attack seeking to penetrate the key defenses of the fortress, where many of the defenders had gone for five days without rest. A brief French communiqué said that repeated Vietminh attempts the previous night to break through the defenses had failed. The outnumbered French Union garrison had clung desperately to a narrowing patch of trenches, bunkers and barbed wire and were in grave danger, after the outer defenses of the fortress had been wrecked by Vietminh artillery fire, pouring in endlessly. The Vietminh casualties had soared as the Communist commanders ordered wave after wave of attackers against the fortress, with a French Army source estimating that the rebels had lost 20,000 killed or wounded since the attack on the fortress had begun in mid-March, the French claiming that 7,000 of the casualties had been killed. The French had not provided their own losses.

A French news agency in Paris said that the Vietminh regulars who had invaded Cambodia the previous day, had captured two cities, Vocune Sai and Siem Pang, and were headed for Stung Treng on the Mekong River.

Lucien Agniel of The News reports of the visit to Charlotte of former Governor Adlai Stevenson the previous day and his speech at the Armory-Auditorium the previous night. In that speech, Mr. Stevenson had asked the Republicans to stop treating the American people as targets of a sales campaign—as further explained in an editorial below. He appeared visibly tired after a round of dinner parties and handshaking as he was led to the rostrum for the speech, with a rendition of "Dixie" being played by the Charlotte Central High School band. He was provided a standing ovation for one minute as he entered the hall and a second ovation for 90 seconds when Governor William B. Umstead formally introduced him. In addition to criticizing the Administration for its sales technique, he criticized it for not taking on Senator McCarthy, who made "a full time occupation of the same politics of misbranding and misrepresentation" as did the Administration. He cited the attitude of Senator Ralph Flanders of Vermont, who had been the first Republican openly to repudiate directly Senator McCarthy, but then praised him for his "20 years of Democratic treason" speech, which Mr. Stevenson regarded as a typical Republican attitude, that Senator McCarthy was "a scoundrel if he attacks Republicans, but a patriot when he attacks ordinary people or calls men like Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman the patrons of traitors."

On this morning, Governor Stevenson faced the press at the Hotel Charlotte, with more than 80 reporters, photographers and radio men in attendance. On Indo-China, he said that the problem of united action was complex because it was a civil war rather than the result of outside aggression. He decided not to speculate regarding what developments were likely to occur to prevent a French collapse in the war. A reporter from Berlin asked him if he thought the U.S. would negotiate directly with the West Germans in the event the European Defense Community, the united army of six nations in Europe, was rejected by France and Italy. He said that the European army was a good idea but that it would have no value if it had only half-hearted support of its participants, and that he would not be completely disheartened if it were not ratified, but preferred not to assume its failure. He said that he would have to disqualify himself on the issue of whether the Administration had been completely candid with the public regarding the hydrogen bomb, but said there had been, during the previous few days, a marked effort on the part of the President and AEC chairman Louis Strauss to inform the people.

A series of four photographs appears on the page regarding the Governor's visit.

The excise tax reduction, passed earlier in the week by Congress and signed into law by the President on Wednesday, was beginning to result in lowered prices on numerous items of merchandise, in such things as mink coats and short-ride railway tickets, as merchants, struggling to keep pace with sales of the previous year's high levels, predicted that the reduction in prices and a late Easter shopping season would bring a boom in retail trade during the spring. The automotive industry had a report of increasing new car sales and dwindling stocks of unsold used cars, prompting manufacturers to increase April production schedules by five percent above earlier projections. Production for the week totaled 113,569 cars and trucks, compared to slightly over 117,000 the previous week and 131,731 in the same week the previous year. The basic steel industry, of which the automobile industry was the best customer, showed signs of leveling off from its recent decline, as the week's production was scheduled at 1.6 million tons, virtually unchanged from the similar figure of the previous week. Heavy construction contract awards had a weekly total of 329.5 million dollars compared to 283.5 million the previous week and was the best weekly volume yet of the year.

In New York, hundreds of longshoremen returned to work this date after the 29-day crippling strike paralyzing New York's waterfront. Tension and bitterness of recent days was absent as the men responded to shape-up calls in front of the piers. The independent ILA, which had originally called the walkout, had called it off the previous night in the face of an NLRB threat to rule the ILA off the ballot in the new bargaining election unless the strike were halted, as the ILA was at the time in defiance of a court order that the strike be ended. ILA officials estimated that 10,000 men would return to work this date, half the normal number of 20,000 employed on the piers.

In Austin, Tex., Evans Riddle, a private in the Confederate Army of Tennessee, had died this date, leaving only four surviving veterans of the Civil War. Mr. Riddle had been just two weeks short of his 108th birthday, had suffered a series of health setbacks since January. He had served for 18 months during the Civil War as a private and liked to tell of his days under General Lee, of whom he kept a picture over his bed. He said that five times he believed his life had not been worth a minute during the war, that snipers had been shooting at him from the tops of trees, and once when he did not know he had been hit, his general said that he was full of bullets, and he looked and found that he had been shot five times in his side. He was the recipient of several honorary titles through his life. A petition by a lawyer, filed on his behalf the previous year, claimed that he was the half-brother of the late Samuel Riddle, the owner of champion racehorse Man O'War, thus seeking several million dollars, prompting several proposals of marriage to him at age 107. He had been married three times, had outlived two of his former wives and divorced the third. The oldest of the other four survivors of the war was 111.

In Glouster, O., a mother and her five children had burned to death early this date in a fire which destroyed their one-story frame cottage. The father had escaped from the house with one son, age 2. The sheriff said that the fire had apparently started after the mother had used kerosene in a stove. The sheriff quoted the father as saying that the house had been destroyed within about 20 minutes of the start of the fire.

In Ripley, Tenn., a doctor said that he intended to contest the re-election of another doctor as mayor, despite his receipt of only 57 votes, compared to the 760 votes of the winner and the 346 votes of the second-placed candidate, a contractor. The losing doctor said that he had more than 57 relatives whom he knew had voted for him.

On the editorial page, "Stevenson Clarifies Democratic Strategy" states that for more than a year, Democratic Party spokesmen had studiously avoided direct criticism of the President, aiming it instead at the Republican Party. In Miami recently, however, Governor Stevenson had delivered the first criticism of the President, charging that the Administration had failed to meet Senator McCarthy's challenge to the President's leadership. In the speech the previous night in Charlotte, former Governor Stevenson had said that when the President ignored the expedient counsel of "small-bore politicians", and cleared the "high-pressure salesmen" out of his house, the Governor would confidently predict that the American people would enthusiastically and gratefully be behind the President. He described a "merchandising technique" and a "sales campaign" being used by the Administration on the American people, including the "unleashing" of Chiang Kai-shek in Nationalist China, the failure to repudiate wartime secret agreements after pledging in the 1952 campaign to do so, the "liberation" of Eastern Europe, and the "sorry confusion" about subversives in the Government. He suggested that the President was responsible for the "calculated use for political effect of misbranding, misstatement, misrepresentation of great issues like foreign policy, defense and the loyalty" of public servants, where the country demanded and deserved the fullest honesty and candor about its Government.

He then made a direct appeal to the Southern Democrats, many of whom had only been lukewarm to his 1952 candidacy for the presidency, by aligning himself with Senator Walter George of Georgia and Representative Sam Rayburn of Texas in the battle for the Democratic income tax cuts to the personal exemptions, and also through friendly and warm references to North Carolina and the South. His audience had appreciated the overtures, interrupting him by applause 37 times, and by laughter, 27 times. It concludes that the visit to the state appeared to spark new enthusiasm in the state Democratic Party and in the 10th Congressional District, and, it adds, it was not being unkind to say that the spark was needed.

Well, shouldn't he therefore have brought along Senator Sparkman, his running mate in 1952?

"Planning Board Needs Technical Staff" indicates that Charlotte Mayor Philip Van Every's suggestion that a survey be conducted to determine the advisability of extending the city limits was in order. It explains why and seconds the motion, suggesting that the City Council allocate a realistic sum for the employment of a technical staff to aid the Planning Board in the venture and future projects.

"Our Manners to a Good Neighbor" praises the Duke Power Co., which had reached the half-century mark on April 1, having started a small hydroelectric plant 50 years earlier at India Hook Shoals, S.C. Within four months of that time, a line had been extended to serve business and residential areas in Charlotte. In 1954, Duke Power served an area of 20,000 square miles, with more than 500,000 consumers who used more than nine billion kilowatts of power per year. The people who worked for the company had been good citizens and good neighbors and so it wishes them a useful and productive future.

A piece from the Sanford Herald, titled "Southerners Understand", indicates that if photographers had not been around, there would not have been any need for Adlai Stevenson to have tried to cover up a hole in the knee of his trousers, as people in North Carolina did not pay much attention to a hole in someone's pants. The hole had been apparent when he posed recently for pictures at his sister's cottage near Southern Pines. The hole had gotten there through honest labor, it suggests, as there was also a threadbare place in the other knee of his gray flannels.

Greensboro editor-author William T. Polk, in Southern Accent, a book published the previous fall, had said that the Old South was a place where a man could go around with a hole in his sock or for that matter in his britches and feel no more embarrassed about it than a king, that a darn or a patch in a garment suggested an attempt to make one's poverty or one's wife's industriousness conspicuous, evincing a low-bred sensitivity to public opinion. But, Mr. Polk had continued, the New South was careful about many things. (Maybe Our American Cousin should have been amended to say, in its most infamous line, "sockhologizing old man-trap".)

Since Mr. Stevenson was of North Carolina ancestry, he understood those things and, it suggests, it had not been through oversight that he still wore the pants with the hole in the knee when he left the photographers for a round of golf with a judge of Moore County. He had the rest of the country in mind when he tried to hide the hole from photographers and their wire photo services, as he believed people in the Midwest and the North would be apt to confuse a hole in a man's pants with his dignity.

The piece does not even mention his famous hole in his shoe during the campaign of 1952.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop indicate that new Atomic Energy Commission chairman, Admiral Louis Strauss, had quietly started a new censorship policy, which had previously been liberal and sensible, permitting reporters to submit what they had written for review by the AEC, which allowed articles or books to pass, provided the authors showed that all facts cited were derived from public sources or deduced by analysis of unclassified information. But Admiral Strauss believed that even if the Soviets had the information in question, when he believed it too strong for the people of the U.S. to know, it remained subject to censorship. If, in his sole judgment, something was "too sensitive", it was censored, despite all of the information on which the author had relied being publicly available. Anyone violating the ban could be subject to prosecution, and a publication was subject to AEC injunction. Even if the case were weak, writers had to desist from publication as they would not be able easily to afford to defend against a prosecution. Nor could a publication take the risk of having a whole issue of a magazine, for instance, delayed or blocked by an injunction. Thus, it would table any such article.

The Alsops had encountered such a situation in the previous few months. They had written a magazine article on the air-atomic balance between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, in collaboration with Dr. Ralph Platt, but the AEC had refused to review it, despite the Alsops offering to prove to Admiral Strauss and his experts that their information had come exclusively from unclassified sources. The offers had been disregarded. He had simply said that the entire subject of U.S. and Soviet atomic stockpiles carried "the highest security classification".

Since that censorship, however, the anti-American British weekly, The New Statesman and Nation, had printed an article by a fellow-traveling British physicist, P. M. S. Blackett, which examined atomic stockpiles, stating that "5,000 would be a fair guess" for the number of U.S. atomic bombs, and that the Soviets could be expected to have "a few hundred" and increasing their stockpiles rapidly. Those estimates coincided with the estimates for each side by the Alsops, but their estimates could not be published because of the censorship policy of the AEC.

They indicate that the statement earlier in the week at the President's press conference by Mr. Strauss that the country had an hydrogen bomb which could wipe out any city, including New York, was, while accurate, deceptive unless also taking into account information about the Soviet hydrogen bomb and their atomic supplies. But Mr. Strauss had declared "too sensitive" the information about comparing U.S. and Soviet stockpiles, leaving the country intentionally ignorant of the most important problem facing it. The Alsops indicate that if the sort of thing went on much longer, the ballot box would soon be outmoded.

Marquis Childs, in Paris, indicates that any estimate of the Communist danger in France was almost certain to be distorted in one direction or another, that from the political viewpoint, the Communist Party in the country was probably less of a threat than at any time since the war, as it was torn by dissension caused by the change in the official Soviet policy since the death of Stalin. Competent observers believed there was a hard-core group of dedicated Communists numbering around 200,000, constituting the real danger to France. Many French officials and politicians had told Mr. Childs that the Communists presently could not precipitate a political strike despite dominating the hierarchy of the largest trade union organization. But with the outbreak of a war, they would appeal to neutralism and pacifism, and the latent distrust of the U.S. fostered by both the extreme left and elements of the right, possibly thereby becoming successful in promoting strikes and slowdowns.

The hard-core Communists had also, in many instances, a strategic position from which to carry out sabotage of the war effort, if the Soviets were the enemy. The entrenched position of the Communists went back to the Government formed immediately after the war by General Charles de Gaulle, coming immediately after the French resistance to Nazi occupation, during which the Communists had proved to be among the bravest and most determined of the resistance fighters. General De Gaulle had placed them in strategic positions in the Ministry of Interior and in the trade unions. From that position, if the economy of France had continued to deteriorate as it had in 1946 and 1947, the Communists would have taken power. But the aid provided by the U.S. under the Marshall Plan had blocked that prospect with a start made at repairing the damage of the war, with the result of increased production and a determined effort to counter the influence of the Communists and to root them out whenever possible. The Marshall Plan had not altered the pattern of economic relationships in the country because while production increased, as did profits, in the first full year of the Plan, wages did not keep pace proportionately with the general rise in economic activity. An attempt was made by French economic planners and U.S. supervisors of Marshall Plan spending to ensure that workers received a larger share of the benefits flowing from U.S. spending, with the prospect of encouraging consumer economy. But a shock occurred which disrupted all plans and set in motion a chain of consequences, the end of which had not yet been determined, as the emphasis was rapidly switched from economic recovery to military assistance and the swift buildup of Western defense forces. Militarily, the move may have been necessary and inevitable, given the fear that the war in Korea might spread. Economically, it could be seen as having come too soon, in light of subsequent events.

Doris Fleeson indicates that the President's preference for the new Comptroller General to succeed Lindsay Warren was Representative Sterling Cole of New York, chairman of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. In addition, 350 members of the House had signed a petition asking the President to appoint Mr. Cole. Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, favored Mark Trice, secretary of the Senate, for the position, but Democrats believed that he did not have the requisite skills for the job. It was also understood that Senator Harry F. Byrd was interested in the position. He understood well the work of the comptroller general. But Democrats expected a Republican to be appointed, and Republicans were divided on who to appoint.

House Ways & Means chairman, Representative Daniel Reed, favored Mr. Trice because Mr. Reed's son, who was Senate majority clerk, would be considered as the successor to Mr. Trice.

Congressional leaders had insisted unanimously in 1940 that President Roosevelt appoint Mr. Warren, who was retiring from his 15-year term a year early because of ill health. The President had liked Mr. Warren but he was a fiscal conservative and the New Deal had encountered a lot of trouble with the late J. R. McCarl, the predecessor to Mr. Warren in the post during the early part of the New Deal. New Dealers wanted a kindred person in the job, but Congress had won out. Ms. Fleeson indicates that Congress got what it wanted, as Mr. Warren was retiring after nearly 14 years, with the thanks of the country.

A letter from the health chairman of the Charlotte Council of Parents and Teachers and the health educator from the Charlotte Health Department, indicates that the month-long registration for school, sponsored by Charlotte parent-teacher groups throughout the city and the Health Department, had been completed the previous day and that the results had been gratifying, with 2,163 children having registered for school, an increase of 223 from 1953. The two organizations thank the newspaper for its contribution to the success of the program.

A letter writer wants to know why the names of grown married men sentenced in juvenile court for the worst of crimes were not available to the press, especially since they were given suspended sentences and released into the community, "much more dangerous than the deadliest serpents." He does not print his own name.

A letter writer indicates that he had for long admired the energy and imagination of a man who had written to the newspaper more than once hoping to start a drive for establishment of a zoo in Charlotte, but was shocked when he read that he was planning a children's zoo. The writer says he was familiar with that type of "Mother Goose" zoo and that the general effect was "nauseating", that when children went to a zoo, they did not want to see "stupid nursery rhymes" but rather animals in their natural surroundings, and might also want to know the names and habits of the animals. "If intelligence is insulted by cooing female attendants who scarcely know their own anatomy, much less that of the animals, he will likely never come back." He also objects to the suggestion by the same person that children be allowed to handle the animals, saying it did not work, that he had seen too many bleeding, internally injured animals who had been victims of supervised handling. He indicates that as a professional zoologist, he was against the kind of zoo, therefore, which the previous writer was planning for Charlotte.

A letter writer from Pittsboro indicates that since the end of World War II, the country had pushed its defense line from its own shores to the heart of Europe, to the Middle East and, by the treaty between Turkey and Pakistan, into the heart of Asia, while Russia had pushed its line of defense westward, with the cooperation of the U.S. in doing so. The U.S. had moved far more in Russia's direction than Russia had toward the U.S. He wonders why Secretary of State Dulles would be sent to the Geneva peace conference on April 26, when it was known that Russia only needed to condition any of its offers on membership of Communist China in the U.N., winning thereby all of the European and Asiatic allies to the U.S., while making the U.S. then appear as the principal obstructionist to peace. He also finds it incomprehensible why the country was trying to inhibit the invasion of ideologies into the Western Hemisphere, when ideas and philosophies could not be stopped at borders. He says that the country had lost the second world war except for the liberation of France and that it should accept its loss of China to the Communists. He favors cooling off the conflict with Russia, as it was only fighting the U.S. with ideas, thinks it unwise to provoke Russia into a hot war. He suggests that the U.S. almost had the muzzles of its guns in the ribs of Russia, and that the U.S. would not tolerate the reverse if it were happening.

Does he effectively predict the Cuban Missile Crisis of October, 1962, just eight and a half years hence?

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