The Charlotte News

Thursday, April 8, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Senate Investigations subcommittee had appointed, the previous day, Ray Jenkins to be the special counsel for the subcommittee's investigations of the Army-McCarthy dispute, and scheduled the televised hearings to begin April 21. Mr. Jenkins, 57, from Knoxville, Tenn., declared that he had no record, publicly or privately, with regard to Senator McCarthy or McCarthyism and pledged that he would dig for and present the facts impartially during the hearings. Be sure to check your local listings and have a good set of rabbit-ears available on top of the tv, to get all of the show.

In the fourth in a series of reports on the rise to power of Senator McCarthy, Jack Bell and Relman Morin of the Associated Press tell of the Senator, in an exclusive recorded interview held recently, having told them that "a sizable number" of the 81 persons he had listed in a Senate speech four years earlier as Communists or fellow travelers in the State Department had been removed. He said that of 30 or more in defense plants who had pleaded the Fifth Amendment before his Investigating subcommittee, all had been suspended or fired. He claimed that a "box score" on the success of the subcommittee had "a lot of merit". They provide several of their questions and his answers verbatim on the topic.

In London, informed sources said that Secretary of State Dulles intended to fly to Europe the following week to hold high-level talks with French and British leaders regarding "united action" to safeguard Southeast Asia from Communist domination.

Senate Majority Leader William Knowland of California said this date that Congress might withhold a decision on foreign aid until the U.S. allies decided how to respond to Secretary Dulles's call for collective action in Southeast Asia, that they might take a new reading based on the upcoming Geneva conference, set to start April 26, in response to the Secretary's inquiries. He was responding to reports that Britain and France opposed any such collective action until after the Geneva conference, set to discuss the peace in Korea and the Indo-China war. He said that Congress might want to withhold action on foreign aid, particularly to those countries which had been dragging their feet on ratification of the European Defense Community, the six nation unified army of France, Italy, West Germany and the Benelux countries, with France being the country primarily dragging its feet on the matter. Senator Pat McCarran of Nevada and Senator Alexander Smith of New Jersey both made comments regarding the prospect of sending naval and air units to Indo-China, with Senator McCarran saying that the prospect would probably only bring the Chinese Communists into the war in force and then there would be no avoiding sending in U.S. troops, while Senator Smith said that he saw no need for using U.S. troops in that fight, except in the case of a crisis in Indo-China, in which case naval and at minimum air power might be needed.

Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson said this date before the Senate Armed Services Committee that a revised security program designed "to clean out and keep out" from the armed forces persons deemed security or loyalty risks was being implemented. He said that the new program would provide uniform standards for the Army, Navy and Air Force in that regard, and would speed up the procedures for getting individuals out of the service and keeping them out. He said that known Communists would not be inducted and that inductees who refused satisfactorily to fill out loyalty questionnaires or whose questionnaires disclosed significant derogatory information, would be accepted but retained on non-sensitive assignments in the lowest enlisted pay grade permitted by law, pending completion of thorough investigation, and that after such investigation, if further retention would prove inconsistent with the interests of national security, the inductee would be separated under other than honorable conditions, but otherwise would be continued and thereafter appropriately assigned.

So, if you want to avoid the draft, just carry a little sign, hidden carefully in your lapel, preferably on microfilm, which says, when magnified appropriately, "Commies now, Commies tomorra, Commies forevah", making sure that you flap your lapel at least a couple of times nervously, with appropriately furtive gestures designed to appear to hide same, as you speak with the induction officer. Or, if your bent is otherwise, you can volunteer at age 17 for the Marines, then, after honorable discharge, defect to Russia, calling attention to yourself thereby, then, four years later, become the logical suspect in the assassination of the President, which happens to take place outside the building where you work, eighteen months after your return to the U.S. and recanting of your declaration of renunciation of U.S. citizenship, the matter, however, having resulted, in the meantime, in FBI investigation and reduction of your honorable discharge to an undesirable discharge, prompting you to write to the then-Secretary of the Navy, later Governor of Texas, to try to obtain reinstatement of your honorable discharge for the reduction having compromised your ability to obtain desirable employment or any employment, except by recommendation of your Russian-born wife's friends, working in aid of Russian and American citizen relations. Or, you could just jump off a bridge, finding it all hopeless and not wishing to become, ultimately, the prime suspect in the conspiracy to assassinate the President.

Over central Japan, a U.S. Air Force B-29 tanker, in the midst of refueling an F-84 Thunderjet, developed a leak and exploded in midair, believed to have killed five crewmen aboard, while six members of the crew managed to parachute to safety, after the explosion had caused a fire, and the tanker had then crashed on an open hillside.

In New York, a 17-year old blonde waitress had been stabbed to death early this date in the hallway of her tenement. Found beside her body was a library book, titled, A Kiss before Dying—by Ira Levin, later, in 1967, to author Rosemary's Baby. Police said that her undergarments had been ripped but that she had not been raped. No weapon was found. The unidentified slayer had run from the scene on East 65th Street, eluding a resident of the house who heard the girl's screams at 3:00 a.m., and responded.

The response of the neighbor stands in stark contrast to the notorious Kitty Genovese slaying in Queens, under similar circumstances, in 1964. Had anything fundamental changed in American life in the intervening decade, or was it just the fact that the two slayings occurred in different neighborhoods, or just that it so happened that in one case no one, of 38 eye or ear witnesses to the brutal stabbing, responded while in the other, one neighbor did, a case which could have happened anywhere at any time, with varying responses of passersby or neighbors? The moral might be that a single tragic incident can be elevated in the press sometimes to magnify complicated results and reactions to the point of causing those reactions to seem to represent a particular type of generalized response in the society, when the response might only be isolated, of the instant and of the place, and have nothing to say more systemic than that, though both types of responses are obviously worthy of report and comment to encourage the better response and discourage the worse. That we recall the case of Ms. Genovese, incidentally, is not the result of a recollection from contemporaneous reportage or editorial comment on it in 1964—consumed, as the reading public was at the time, by reports more national in character—, but rather from a few years later, in reading scholarly commentary about it in the context of a sociology course in college.

In Edenton, N.C., police officers probed the past life of a woman for whom a car bomb had been intended the previous day, winding up injuring the police chief after he took the bomb to the police station to try to disarm it. The woman's husband, only a few months after their marriage, had been killed on December 31, 1951 by a bomb when his truck exploded, as he intended to proceed to his job teaching agriculture in Mt. Airy. (Things were never like that in Mayberry. Things must have changed.) The woman had just announced during the week that she would marry a City councilman and businessman of Edenton on April 24. Two SBI agents, who had investigated her husband's previous death, questioned the woman for three hours the previous night, and a third agent said that nothing new had been learned, that they had no leads in the attempted bombing or the bombing of her husband two years earlier. She had said that she had no idea who might have done it. The bomb left on the floorboard of her car was a homemade device.

In Charlotte, Mayor Philip Van Every said this date that the City Government's own engineering resources were adequate to perform any surveys needed for the proposed extension of the city limits.

Also in Charlotte, News reporter Lucien Agniel tells of the Golden Years Club, quoting one member as saying to another that he wanted his bride to appear as 16 instead of 60, in the selection of her dress for their wedding on this morning. He was 79. She was proud that her new blue dress was size 16 and he appeared pleased that his request had been filled. (Size 60 would have been a bit much.) Both had been married once before and each had seven children, five girls and two boys, all of whom of the bride were present, but only one of whom of the groom turned out, as he said he had only mentioned it to the one child. Mr. Agniel further reports in detail on how they came to meet and how he had proposed. Why would he not tell the other six children? What was he hiding? This story reveals too much and not enough.

It must also be determined why Dory had her new 1955 Thunderbird repainted in some flat, non-Ford copper color instead of its original Thunderbird Blue to match the blue interior. Something is afoot which is foul, and must be unearthed in time to save the day. For copper and blue are obviously mismatched. Perhaps, Dory was communicating to her fiance, who had gotten her pregnant, that she, in fact, was a copper and would have him arrested unless he married her, or that she suspected that he might cop her car and make off for the highlands without her. Or, opting for a less poetic communication, maybe she had been involved in some terrible accident after having drunk too much over her unfortunate state, having had interpersonal relations with the devil, and wished to cover up her crime, probably bumping off an innocent bum on the side of the road and leaving him for dead, uncaring, uncompassionate, thus making the subsequent act of Bud, out of his deep love for her, not seem so terrible, after all. An inquiring public wants to know.

On the editorial page, "The Court Record of Bruce Blackmon" examines that particular individual's court record, presently charged with manslaughter, showing he had plentiful traffic offenses during the previous decade, including reckless driving, going back to 1944, right up to March 16, 1954, at which time his driver's license had been suspended for 30 days for speeding 70 mph, until, on March 28, he was charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon by an automobile, reckless driving and speeding, in an accident in which a man had been injured, subsequently dying, causing the charge to be increased to manslaughter, on which a preliminary hearing was set for April 15.

Guess it might be somewhat difficult for him to hope for a fair trial, should the matter get to Superior Court. What if the accident turns out to be equally the fault of the other driver? a subject not at all explored by the editorial. What if the cause of death turns out to be some pre-existing health condition, unrelated, or at least only tenuously or speculatively related, to the accident? Guess the jury would be left to conclude that the book, including A Kiss before Dying, ought be thrown at the man because of his past record, regardless of the facts of the current case. Maybe he was as guilty as sin, but the point is that the trial should be in the courtroom, not in the newspaper's editorial column, utilizing the man's name even in the header. If he is guilty, then it is the prosecutor's duty, not that of the newspaper editor in assistance, to convict him, via the available evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt.

"N.C. Schools' Big Need Is Money" refers to a piece on the page by News associate editor Vic Reinemer regarding the relatively low rank of North Carolina among the 48 states on many of the 23 measurements of educational rank used by the National Education Association, with the state falling below the national average in 19 of them while being in the top eight in only two. It had a higher percentage of college graduates among its elementary school teachers, at 93 percent, than did all of the states save five—though Mr. Reinemer indicates the state's rank in that category as seventh—, and provided a greater portion of state and local revenue to public schools through taxes than did all save six of the states.

The deficiency of the state could be summed up by the fact that there was not enough available tax money to build a good school system because average income was low, families were large and the school system required so much improvement to reach the national standard that it could not be easily accomplished. Thus, to improve the tax base, increase in per capita income in the state required broadening of its industrial base, the passage of an adequate state minimum wage law, creation of more economic opportunities for blacks, and revision of the tax laws, including perhaps elimination of some of the sales tax exemptions.

It indicates that some of the state's poor showing in the categories used by the NEA could be the result of those categories being based on cash income instead of real income, as the state had the nation's largest rural population, and real income on the farm exceeded the cash income considerably because farmers raised their own food. But it finds little else about which to be optimistic regarding the status of the state as portrayed by the NEA study, and concludes that educational improvement in the state still had a long way to go.

"Sugaw Creek—a Potential Asset?" indicates that the problematic creek, which emitted odors from the constant infusion to it of industrial waste and other impurities, could become an asset if its flow were restricted to a more narrow and better defined channel, followed by the development of the territory along its banks in the interest of the public.

It had been suggested at the City Council session the previous day by former Mayor Herbert Baxter that the creek be so restricted by building a concrete channel for it, with safety fences on either side.

The piece, however, asserts that the elimination of industrial waste from the creek by absorbing them into the City's sewage system ought be the first priority, which could be accomplished after the work was complete on the new sewage disposal plant, about eight months hence. Once done, one of several possibilities for making the land around the creek useful was to construct a boulevard to parallel the course of the creek, with cross streets going over it and under it, while another was to construct a public park out of a strip of land on both sides, landscaped and planted with shrubs and trees.

It concludes that while the latter project might have to take a backseat to other emergency needs, it should not be permitted to die.

Vic Reinemer of The News, as indicated in the above editorial, compares education in North Carolina to that of other states, starting with the statement by former News editor and associate editor Burke Davis, who had labeled North Carolina some years earlier "Old Forty-five"—though that phrase, adjusted for the particular ranking, actually extended back into W. J. Cash's time as associate editor—, for its usual placement of 45th among the states in per capita income, cash farm income and years of school completed. The nickname had been recalled by Mr. Reinemer's reading of a booklet titled "Educational Differences among the States", published during the month by the National Education Association, comparing educational facilities among the states, using 23 standard measurements, by four of which, North Carolina had ranked 45th, and by another four, either 44th or 46th, while, by two standards, as the above editorial relates, the state ranked among the top eight.

He provides those various measurements: for instance in average number of pupils per teacher in 1950-51, the state was 46th, at 28.7, against a national average of 24.1; in median school years completed by persons 25 or older in 1950, the state ranked 45th, at 7.9, with the U.S. average being 9.3; and so forth, with the same general ranking being applicable to such categories as percent of school-age children in school, average per capita income payments to individuals in the state, school-age children per 1,000 wage-earning adults, percent of the population 25 or older with less than five years of education, percent of rejections for failing the armed forces qualification test, and average current expenditures for public education from state and local sources per pupil, in which latter category the state ranked 41st, with $143, against a national average of $217.

In average salaries of classroom teachers for the current school year, the state ranked 33rd, at $3,175, against a national average of $3,605. It ranked 26th among 39 of the states in the percent of total capital requirements for school construction which states were considered unable to finance for themselves in 1953, seven states having not taken part in the School Facilities Survey, on which the statistics were based, while two other states had not completed the survey.

The state ranked 14th for average number of days attended per pupil enrolled in 1950-51, seventh in percent of expenditures from state and local revenue in support of public schools in the same school year, and the same rank for percent of elementary school teachers with less than four years of college preparation, at 31.8 percent.

He indicates that by only the last four listed of the 23 categories used by the NEA to measure relative education across the states had North Carolina been above the national average and median, which included, in addition to the latter three stated measurements, per capita general state revenue from taxes in 1952, at $67.35, placing the state 22nd. But in more than half of the measurements, 40 or more of the other states ranked ahead of North Carolina.

Drew Pearson indicates that the current educational campaign to prepare the American people for possible war in Indo-China had been preceded by a special study by the National Security Council, conducted by Undersecretary of Defense Roger Kyes and Undersecretary of State Walter Bedell Smith, both charged with ascertaining whether the Truman policy regarding Indo-China had been correct, that the French-controlled colony was vital to the anti-Communist defense of Asia. But the governments of Burma and Thailand had been informing Washington recently that they could hold out against the Communist Chinese even if Indo-China were to fall, resulting in the special study. The conclusion of the study, however, was the same as that found by the Truman Administration, that Indo-China was essential to the free world. The NSC study concluded that if Indo-China were to become Communist, Russia would be able to weld the manpower of China and the raw materials of Southeast Asia together, leaving the chief remaining Communist goal as the industrial power of Japan, with all the surrounding countries, plus eventually Japan and the Philippines, falling later to Communism.

To intervene actively in Indo-China, with the definite risk of war resulting, meant delicate, embarrassing political problems in that war and the exposure of the fallacies of both the concept of push-button warfare and the promise of Secretary of State Dulles not to bog down the U.S. again in any local Korean-type war. In addition, the budget cuts saved at the expense of the Army, Navy and Air Force would have to be revised and jettisoned, and the Democrats could use the same tactic used by Republicans in 1952 regarding Korea, in the midterm elections in the fall.

Thus, talks had been proceeding with Australia and New Zealand to arouse their interest in Indo-China, as they would be in great danger in the event of Communist domination of the region, both countries having only sent outdated military equipment and thus far not committing to the sending of any troops to Indo-China. U.S. admirals were proposing sending two or more aircraft carriers which could be positioned off the French Indo-China coast for hitting the Communists. But such a commitment would invoke the risk that Chinese troops would then be sent to join the fight. The sending of four U.S. divisions had also been discussed to replace French metropolitan troops in France, thus relieving the political tension caused by the need of French troops at home rather than in Indo-China. It was considered that the political ramifications of such a move among the American public would not be relished but might not be avoidable. Previously, France had taken the position that Indo-China was a domestic problem, not for U.N. debate, placing the U.S. in an awkward position of supporting an imperialist Government, one of the great difficulties in Indo-China and the reason why the war was so unpopular among Asiatics. Placing the matter before the U.N. would be very difficult because of the reluctance of the French and the availability of the Soviet unilateral veto on the Security Council. Russia had boycotted the Council over refusal to recognize Communist China in early to mid-1950, at the time when the attack in Korea occurred June 25, and so was not available to veto the resolution passed days later, declaring the incursion by North Korea of South Korea to be a threat to the peace of the region, thus calling for U.N. action. The Soviets had regretted that fact ever since and would not make the same mistake again. Mr. Pearson indicates that those were the chief problems being discussed backstage regarding the most difficult problem which the Administration had yet faced, the war in Indo-China.

In northern New Jersey, former Congressman and former convict, J. Parnell Thomas, was trying to stage a political comeback. He had pleaded guilty to taking kickbacks from staff salaries, amounting to fraud against the Government, and had served a term of imprisonment, though "soft-hearted" President Truman had later pardoned him and forgiven his $10,000 fine. Mr. Thomas now claimed that he had been railroaded by those in Washington who did not like the fact that he had fought to expose Communists in his previous position as chairman of HUAC, especially when the Republicans were in the House majority in 1947-48, and was now demanding that every "patriotic man and woman" in his Congressional district send him back to Washington so that he could get back at the people who had sent him to jail. His Republican primary opponent, Congressman William Widnall, the successor to Mr. Thomas, was conducting a hard-working campaign, saying little while meeting a lot of people. Meanwhile, Mr. Thomas accused him of being a do-nothing Congressman. Mr. Pearson indicates that one thing Mr. Widnall did not do was to take the taxpayers' money, and was otherwise working hard and had a good record, returning to his district on weekends to campaign against Mr. Thomas. Thus far, it appeared that Mr. Widnall would win handily, but was concerned that outsiders might criticize Mr. Thomas to the point of turning him into a martyr, causing voters to rally to his support.

The Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Va., presents a statement from 146 of its students, with supporting signatures of faculty members and neighboring clergy, recently delivered to the President. They declare that they were Christian citizens and future ministers of the Protestant Episcopal Church, believe that God made men to be free, and are concerned by current evidences of deterioration and decay of public morale and personal liberty in the country. They state that the most recent indication of that deterioration was the clash between a certain subcommittee of the Congress and the executive branch of the Government, pointing up a growing spirit of fear and distrust among citizens of the country.

They indicate that men were made not to live alone but in communities, based on trust and respect. The elected government should protect the people from totalitarian threat from within and from without. They declare their loathing for Communism at home and abroad as an "evil creed hostile" to Christian faith and confidence in the principles of American democracy

They assert that it was "unmistakably true that Senator McCarthy" acted on principles which were hostile to freedom. They find that he had "tended to intimidate loyal members of the government as well as members of the teaching profession and other individuals and groups." They state their belief that many citizens in and out of government had become afraid to stand up for free speech and personal liberty, that such hesitancy was "evidence of the degradation" in the country's common life and to the advantage of Communist power.

They urge their fellow citizens to dedicate themselves anew to freedom and the common good, and further assert that the members of the executive and legislative branches who were speaking out of conscience in opposition to Senator McCarthy deserved "profound praise and encouragement".

Nothing but a bunch of goddamned Commies.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop seek to straighten out some of the "nonsense" written about the hydrogen bomb over the previous couple of weeks since the Administration had revealed the massive detonation of March 1 in the Marshall Islands. They indicate that the power of the weapons, while in theory limitless, was, in practice, limited. The most recent series of tests in the Pacific was supposed to develop a power of 40 megatons, or about 2,000 times the power of the Hiroshima bomb, and even that might have been an under-estimate. The first hydrogen bomb, of November 1, 1952, was anticipated to develop less than one megaton, instead developing five megatons. The second bomb, of March 1, 1954, had been expected to develop between four and six megatons, but "surprised and astounded" the scientists, according to the President, by developing 14 megatons. The third bomb was supposed to develop three megatons, but had produced 17 megatons. The coming detonation, if it were permitted to take place on schedule, might yet again, they suggest, fool the scientists.

Thus, questions about whether the hydrogen bomb tests were getting "out of hand" had been bandied about during the previous few weeks, and, if true, a resigned despair was the only sensible national attitude, as it was folly to discuss air defense, civil defense or any other type of defense if only a handful of bombs could destroy the whole continental land mass. But such statements, they clarify, were not true at all. While it was theoretically possible to build a thermonuclear device with unlimited power, a million-megaton bomb, for instance, would, for all practical purposes, never be built. The weapons producer was concerned not with theoretical output but the amount of the target area which could be destroyed and whether the device could be delivered to the target. The phenomenon of "limit of blowout" curtailed the lateral destruction of the hydrogen bomb after about 50 megatons of output. After that point, power was dissipated in the relatively non-resistant upper atmosphere. Thus, even if the coming test produced a bomb with several times greater power than the previous bomb, its destructive radius would only be a couple of miles or so wider.

In addition, as more power was built into the bomb, it became more bulky and thus more difficult to transport by air.

It was thus a reasonable guess that both the U.S. and the Soviet Union would settle on a working-model hydrogen bomb of somewhere between 10 and 15 megatons of output, capable of destroying or damaging an area of approximately 600 square miles with a lateral radius of destruction between eight and fourteen miles, quite enough to destroy a great city. Yet, 100 such bombs hitting the U.S. would destroy or damage only about one-500th of the total land area, meaning that a large amount of the country would physically survive a nuclear attack of that magnitude. While that prospect did not necessarily mean that the U.S. would survive as a functioning national society, utter despair was also not the appropriate reaction. For an effective air defense could drastically reduce the number of enemy targets and a truly effective civil defense would make certain that the nation could continue to function as an organized, disciplined society, at least on a skeletal basis, after such an attack.

The Administration had publicly announced its decision to base national strategy on a policy of "massive retaliation", utilizing the new weapons in the event of an enemy attack on friendly territory anywhere in the world, and U.S. intelligence fully supported Prime Minister Churchill's statement that the hydrogen bomb was now "in large-scale production in the Soviet Union". Thus, an all-out national effort in air defense and civil defense was clearly indicated, but, the Alsops lament, such an effort, if it was being planned, was taking place very quietly.

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