The Charlotte News

Monday, May 17, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the U.S. Supreme Court had decided unanimously this date, in Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483, that segregation was no longer constitutionally viable under the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause, overruling the 1896 case of Plessy v. Ferguson and its "separate-but-equal" doctrine, holding that the doctrine had not, in 58 years, achieved its goal of substantial equality in public educational facilities, thus ordering relief granted to the five public school districts in Kansas, Virginia, South Carolina, Delaware and the District of Columbia, the combined plaintiffs in the case, seeking an end to segregation in those school districts. Lawyers indicated that the ruling would impact 17 states where laws presently required segregation in the public schools. New Chief Justice Earl Warren delivered the Court's opinion, which said, in its closing paragraphs: "We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of separate but equal has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and other similarly situated for whom the action has been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the 14th Amendment." It further indicated that there was no need therefore to reach the question of whether segregation also violated due process under the Fourteenth Amendment.

In an apparent effort to preclude advance leak of the ruling, the Court took the action, unprecedented in recent years, of withholding printed copies of the decision until it had been read fully from the bench by the Chief Justice. Ordinarily, pages of the Court distributed printed opinions to reporters in the courtroom just before the opinion was read. The newspaper prints the complete text of the ruling on page 16-A.

In Raleigh, Governor William B. Umstead indicated that he was "terribly disappointed" by the decision of the Court. His office said that he would have no further statement until he had an opportunity to read and study the opinion. North Carolina political leaders had provided no advance indications of what course they would follow in the event the Court struck down segregation.

In Charlotte, the superintendent of City Schools, Dr. Elmer Garringer, said, in response to the decision, that both white and black citizens would face the problem "fairly and honestly in an effort to work out a satisfactory solution". He went on to say that Charlotte was a Christian and law-abiding city and would be expected to do what the law of the land directed. He said that one of the problems was the grouping of black and white populations in the city, which nominally placed students in schools predominantly of their own race, but that there were some older parts of the city, those served presently by Central High School, Second Ward, First Ward and Alexander Street Schools, where that would not be true. J. W. Wilson, superintendent of the County Schools, said that he could not make a statement without thinking about it because "we don't know just how far-reaching this will be."

As with most such controversial decisions in their time, it would take another 20 years or so for Brown and its implementing decision a year later to be fully accepted and implemented, especially when busing came into play to effect implementation, starting around 1971. Charlotte would play a central role in the last gasps of segregation in the schools, with its troubles in getting Federal Court approval of its several submitted desegregation plans, culminating in Swann v. Board of Education, decided in 1971, finally resolving the matter with a busing plan which proved a model for other communities, though only beginning the new controversy stoked in the Northern cities by the recrudescent Machiavellian voice of division within the fell-soul fleet infused within George Wallace and his demogogic like, stretching unrest and new hatred into Louisville and Boston by 1975. Some communities integrated their schools with ease and little, if any, controversy, while others stubbornly clung to the past, still trying to fight the Civil War on another plane of reality, becoming thereby the laughing-stock of the nation for their backward ways, leading to absurdly ironic scenes often appearing on the nightly news. Some who had resisted reality were sobered by the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, but others were not and persisted even to the bitter end.

From Hanoi, it was reported that the French had announced this date that they would resume bombing of the Vietminh's 70-mile "hospital corridor", the air route which the French were permitted to use to evacuate the wounded at a slow pace by helicopter from the conquered fortress at Dien Bien Phu, unless the Vietminh repaired the airstrip adjacent to the fortress so that the evacuation could be sped up via transport planes. The French broadcast gave the Vietminh commander, General Vo Nguyen Giap, until midnight to accept the ultimatum. The problem was that Vietminh troops were streaming eastward from the fallen fortress toward the vital Red River delta in the vicinity of Hanoi and Haiphong. Only 11 French casualties had been evacuated before the French had suspended the airlift by helicopter and single-engine planes the previous Saturday and pressed their insistence that the airstrip be repaired. There was little hope at French headquarters in Hanoi that the Vietminh would agree to the new demand, but instead would likely speed up sending along the 70-mile stretch of highway troops and war matériel before the bombing was resumed. The French charged that the provision of safe passage to the French for the evacuation had only been a pretext for allowing safe movement for the Vietminh to the area of the Red River delta. The French said that to remove the 753 "seriously wounded", whom the Vietminh had said they would allow, would take a month via helicopters and small planes unless the airstrip were repaired to permit larger aircraft.

U.S. diplomats reported this date that U.S. efforts to form a united front in Southeast Asia were rolling again after weeks of confusion and hesitation during which little progress had been made. French Premier Joseph Laniel, in talks with U.S. Ambassador Douglas Dillon in Paris, was expected to present a concrete proposal for U.S. intervention in Indo-China, and Ambassador Dillon had made clear to Premier Laniel that such a proposal would provide a basis for further consideration of U.S. plans by the President, Secretary of State Dulles and other American leaders. Also, some form of U.N. intervention had become more likely than a week earlier, and there was consideration in Washington of getting the U.N. to send an investigating group to Indo-China. Plans for military talks between the U.S., Britain, France and other friendly nations interested in Southeast Asia were proceeding again after having been sidetracked for a few days. Those talks would probably be held in either Washington or London and would involve, in addition to the Western Big Three, Australia, New Zealand, and possibly Thailand and the Philippines, together with Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam, the three French Union Associated States forming Indo-China. Talks between France and the U.S. had begun in Paris on Friday, shortly after the Laniel Government had won a narrow vote of confidence in the National Assembly and after Secretary Dulles assured the French that his speech a week earlier represented U.S. policy and was not something put out only for domestic consumption. Informed sources in Geneva had indicated the previous week that the U.S. was not prepared to intervene in Indo-China alone, but might do so without Britain, provided other Pacific powers would join in the operation.

At Geneva, in the peace talks regarding Indo-China, secrecy prevailed, but sources indicated that the Western powers were pressing for a quick cease-fire as the first step toward a political settlement to the war. Following a week of general debate, during which all nine of the represented delegations made policy declarations, the conference scheduled its first restricted session during the afternoon to engage in concrete negotiations. Those sessions were limited to the heads of the nine delegations plus three advisers each. The participants were prohibited from reporting to the press the matters which transpired. It was understood that French Foreign Minister Georges Bidault was to present a detailed armistice plan during the afternoon session, based on his previous proposals to stop the fighting. Those earlier proposals had provided for complete withdrawal of all Communist forces from Cambodia and Laos, and for the grouping of all military forces in Viet Nam, the third and largest of the Associated States, in areas to be agreed upon by the conference.

On the 18th day of the Senate Investigations subcommittee hearings on the dispute between the Army and Senator McCarthy, the Senator charged that the executive branch, by prohibiting testimony of Army general counsel John G. Adams regarding the substance of a meeting on January 21 at the White House, was engaging in a "cover-up", and proposed suspending the hearings while the issue was being discussed. He said that the executive order not to discuss the meeting had raised the question as to whether Secretary of the Army Robert Stevens and Mr. Adams were "free agents", operating to produce the Army report which had charged Senator McCarthy and subcommittee chief counsel Roy Cohn with making threats of further investigation of Communists in the Army to obtain favors for Private G. David Schine, a former unpaid aide of the subcommittee. Mr. Adams had testified the previous Wednesday that during that January meeting, he was directed by Sherman Adams, White House chief of staff, to prepare a written account of the Army's troubles with Senator McCarthy and Mr. Cohn regarding Private Schine. Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri objected to halting the hearings, even for this date. At the noon hour, the subcommittee, after debating the course it would take during the morning, recessed to decide behind closed doors its further action. After the recess, in the afternoon session, it was determined that the hearings would adjourn for one week.

The White House made public in the morning a letter from the President to Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson, which had directed Government officials not to impart to Senate investigators their private conversations on the Army-McCarthy dispute or to provide confidential documents relating to it. The President had based his stand on the Constitutional separation of powers, stating that the principle had to be upheld "regardless of who would be benefited".

This issue of executive privilege would crop up again, twenty years down the road, with James St. Clair, special co-counsel for the Army during the Army-McCarthy hearings, representing the President in a different context, where a special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, had, in connection with a criminal inquiry following on a grand jury indictment of several White House aides and CREEP campaign operatives, naming also the President as an "unindicted co-conspirator", issued a subpoena for tapes of conversations had within the executive branch regarding obstruction of justice, relating to the investigation of the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington on June 18, 1972, getting down to the nut-cutting of the matter.

In New York, gambling kingpin Frank Costello was sentenced this date to five years in prison for Federal income tax evasion and fined $30,000. He could have received up to 15 years in prison. He had been jailed twice before, for ten months on a gun charge 39 years earlier and for 14 months in 1952-53 for contempt of the Senate Kefauver Crime Investigating Committee, for refusing to answer its questions, during its 1950-51 hearings on organized crime. Mr. Costello had been convicted the previous Thursday on three counts of having evaded payment of $39,000 in Federal income taxes between 1947 and 1949.

In Moultrie, Ga., capture of a paroled Georgia convict, previously convicted of murder, wanted in connection with four slayings, ended three days of terror this date and brought sighs of relief to the town. Hundreds of citizens had joined in the manhunt which led to the capture of the man the previous night by a Georgia Bureau of Identification officer on the edge of a swamp east of the town. Two of the victims had been a retired prison warden and his wife, whose throats had been cut and both brutally slashed. Two other men had been attacked when they heard the screams of the wife of the former prison warden and rushed to their home to try to assist. One of the two was in critical condition, but the other, not so badly slashed, had identified the caught man as the assailant. Another double homicide the previous night had caused tension in the community when an unknown attacker had killed two men by slashing their throats at a drive-in grocery, with one of the two having been shot between the eyes with a .22-caliber bullet. About $15 was missing from the cash register. The capturing officer said that the suspect had readily confessed to killing the former prison warden and his wife and slashing the two men who responded to her screams. A .22-caliber rifle was found near the home of the former prison warden, where the arrested suspect was living and working since his parole five years earlier.

With hot weather on the way locally, the newspaper published a special section, 24 pages long, relating the story of air conditioning and listing the air conditioning equipment available from Charlotte dealers.

In San Francisco, the owner of an expensive automobile was sentenced to five days in jail and fined $100 for dumping his garbage beside a street to save about a dollar per month. Was the expensive automobile a V.W. Microbus, maybe made expensive by a fancy, curlicued paint job by a well-recognized pop artist?

On the editorial page, "The Case for the Community Colleges" indicates that the following day only about six percent or fewer of the voters of Charlotte would decide the future of the city's two community colleges, Charlotte College and Carver College, by voting for or against the proposed two-cent property tax increase for their support. It urges voting for the measure.

"Another Diversion in Army Hearing" indicates that the current controversy over the role of three top Eisenhower Administration officials in bringing the Army-McCarthy dispute to a head was scarcely news, and had little to do with the basic issues of the dispute, whether the Army report prepared on Senator McCarthy and Roy Cohn regarding their threats to obtain preferential treatment for Private Schine was, as claimed by Senator McCarthy, a form of "blackmail" to try to induce him to end the subcommittee's investigation of subversive activity in the Army at Fort Monmouth, N.J. It had become obvious months earlier that the Administration, after failing in its repeated efforts to appease Senator McCarthy, had adopted a new strategy for dealing with him, part of which had been the report by the Army to the subcommittee.

Secretary of the Army Stevens would not have decided to battle Senator McCarthy in a public hearing had he not received prior approval by top officials of the Administration, and whether that approval had come from the President or from chief of staff Sherman Adams, Attorney General Herbert Brownell, Deputy Attorney General William Rogers, or U.N. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., the four participants in the January 21 White House meeting, along with Army general counsel John G. Adams, did not really matter and was of no business to the subcommittee in any event. The fact that the decision had been made to prepare the charges was already known and established by testimony already taken from John Adams. And there was no reason for the subcommittee therefore to inquire further regarding the substance of the January 21 meeting.

Republicans who had been sympathetic to Senator McCarthy all along, saw in this new issue another diversion which would confuse the picture, while the Democrats believed it might embarrass the Administration politically. It indicates that it might do both unless it were settled quickly and decisively. It wants the subcommittee to return to the principal issues and suggests that if they did, they would save time and regain some measure of respect from the American people.

"Familiar Tune" indicates that Democratic Senatorial candidate and former Governor Kerr Scott had promised, if elected, to read the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence to the Senate each May 20, the putative date in 1775 for that Declaration's origin, and would also help the United Daughters of the Confederacy get back Confederate muster rolls which were supposedly being held hostage in Washington. Meanwhile, his opponent, incumbent interim Senator Alton Lennon, was paying tribute to "the brave men and women who fought so gallantly for the South in the War Between the States and who worked with might and main after the struggle to raise our glorious Southland again." The third candidate in the Senate race, Alvin Wingfield, Jr., was looking for "Willis Smith-Alvin Wingfield Democrats of the true Jeffersonian-Jacksonian liberal persuasion." It concludes: "Shucks, who said this wasn't a normal campaign?"

A piece from the Wall Street Journal, titled "Customers and Prices", indicates that several business surveys of that newspaper had disclosed flourishing activity of the discount houses, stores which sold merchandise, mostly consumer durables, below the list price set by the manufacturer. Recently, a nationwide survey had reported a booming business in the sale of new cars at discounts of up to several hundred dollars per car, some offered by regular franchise dealers and others by second-hand dealers selling new 1954 models.

To the established retailers, particularly those dealing with fixed-price merchandise under fair trade laws, and to the franchised auto dealers, all of that was considered "bootlegging" and "unfair" competition, posing serious problems for them. They were stuck with overhead for services not provided by the discount houses and dealers.

There were many people who were prophets of doom, complaining that people were not buying of late, that the country was in a depression because of lack of purchasing power, especially in the automobile market. But, it suggests, the discount market provided incontrovertible evidence that people would buy things at an attractive price. The reason for the drop in consumer interest had been that the price tags on merchandise fixed during the boom period no longer applied to the market. The situation was the reverse of wartime scarcity where the attempt was to keep prices below market.

Just how widespread the bootlegging was or how long it would continue, no one knew, but experience suggested that it would not go away just because of manufacturers' complaints or issuance of ukases by associations against it. It concludes that the customers were around and that all it took to stimulate purchasing was to sell the merchandise to them at the right price.

Walter Spearman, in The State magazine, provides a look at spring books out of North Carolina, starting with one by Raleigh News & Observer editor Jonathan Daniels, The End of Innocence, in which he told of his experiences in Washington from the inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson to the end of the New Deal, Mr. Daniels having served for a time as a speechwriter, aide and assistant press secretary to FDR, elevated to press secretary just prior to the President's death in April, 1945. His father, Josephus, had been Secretary of the Navy under President Wilson, and in that capacity had been the "chief" to Franklin Roosevelt in his first Federal job as Assistant Secretary.

James Street, who had written the lively and controversial The Civil War, had completed a new manuscript on the Revolutionary War, with an abstract scheduled to appear first as an article in Holiday magazine before publication of the book.

Burke Davis, former associate editor and editor of the News from mid-1942 to fall, 1945, who had already written two widely read Revolutionary War novels, The Ragged Ones and Yorktown, would soon publish a biography of Stonewall Jackson, They Called Him Stonewall.

The UNC Press had reported excellent sales of Hugh Lefler's new history of North Carolina, and Clement Eaton's A History of the Southern Confederacy was receiving excellent reviews since publication the prior March, as had The Gentlemen of Renaissance France, by UNC professor W. Lee Wiley.

Two new volumes of short stories had been published: The Gentle Insurrection and Other Stories, by Doris Betts, one of whose stories, "The Sympathetic Visitor", had appeared in a recent issue of Mademoiselle magazine and another in The Carolina Quarterly; and The Widows of Thornton, a series of connected short stories by Peter Taylor, who had formerly taught Mrs. Betts at Woman's College at Greensboro.

And Mr. Spearman goes on for two more columns, listing and briefly summarizing a host of other books written by North Carolinians, probably enough books to keep you reading all summer. He mentions that The Mind of the South by W. J. Cash was appearing for the first time this spring in a paperback version to "introduce it to a new generation of readers who have grown up since its original publication in 1941." As we have previously indicated, interest in the book had surged, in both North and South, in expectation and in the wake of the Brown desegregation decision of the Supreme Court, leading to the release of it in paperback. It is worth noting, as many would in the coming years, that the oft-quoted last page of the book, while expressly refraining from prophecy, appeared to prophesy that which was to occur in the South in its time of test regarding integration, referring then to the "forces sweeping over the world in the fateful year of 1940."

He also mentions that UNC graduate Shelby Foote, who had written for The Carolina magazine, to become the well-known author of the three-volume set of books on the Civil War, the first of which would be published in 1958 and the last in 1974, had authored Jordan County, a series of stories covering a Southern community from 1797 to 1950.

We omit mention of the remainder not because they do not deserve mention but because they are so numerous as almost to form an index, and of sufficient clarity in print that you should be able to read them easily for yourself. Clip it as your parallel reading list for the summa, reading all of which will make you a summa cum laude.

Drew Pearson indicates that when one drove by the Burning Tree Country Club outside Washington, one could always tell whether the President was there golfing, as a couple of Secret Service agents stood at the gate at those times and checked all the names of members as they entered. One day, the founder of the Club, Merle Thorpe, had driven up to the club entrance and was stopped by the Secret Service, who wanted to know his name, to which he replied, "Malenkov", somewhat irritated that he was being asked to identify himself at the entrance to the club he had founded. One of the agents then carefully perused the list of members and said that he could not find that name, to which Mr. Thorpe said that he was a new member, at which point he was allowed to pass.

Robert Taft, Jr., son of the late Senator, was almost certain to be elected to the Ohio Legislature in November, but had already incurred the ire of the Ohio Republican organization by deserting Congressman George Bender, one of his father's strongest supporters, in his race to be nominated for the Senate, to back his opponent, future Attorney General William Saxbe—appointed by President Nixon in the wake of the infamous "Saturday Night Massacre" of October, 1973, in which President Nixon had ordered his Attorney General to fire special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox, leading to the resignations of two Attorneys General in succession, until they got down to acting Attorney General Robert Bork, who fired Mr. Cox. Mr. Taft thought that Mr. Bender was not suitable to be elected to the Senate, charging that he had attempted to obtain the endorsement of his father from the grave by distributing pictures of himself taken with Senator Taft during the 1952 campaign. Notwithstanding that attack, the Republican organization in Cincinnati had endorsed Mr. Bender by a 2 to 1 margin.

When Senate Investigations subcommittee chief counsel Roy Cohn, subcommittee assistant Francis Carr and Private Schine had finished a day before the television cameras during the hearings, they frequently met for dinner at the swanky Colony Restaurant in Washington, where they were escorted by a waiter to a reserved corner table as a "security" measure, with no one allowed to occupy the adjacent table. The three would then whisper, and stop whispering whenever a waiter approached. Private Schine would demand a table telephone for use during dinner, which he enjoyed using and letting everyone in the restaurant know that he was using it. The main course which they ordered was a huge steak, split three ways, which they called "going threesies". Following dinner, Private Schine usually dropped in at the Mayflower Hotel to pick up the latest newspapers, one night purchasing three magazines, The World, with the teaser written across the bottom, "How McCarthyism Helps the Kremlin", plus Confidential, and, apparently embarrassed by being seen with a copy of the latter, tucking it between the pages of the more respectable U.S. News & World Report.

He should have picked up a copy of Playboy, or even something a little racier, and sported it around in plain view, to neutralize some rumors floating about, which, no doubt, were not allayed by "going threesies" at the Colony, any more than by his statement that he had a butterscotch sundae on a Monday at that same restaurant, during his testimony anent the photograph of himself with Secretary of the Army Robert Stevens and two other men, cropped by someone else from the original photograph.

John Allen May, writing in the Christian Science Monitor, indicates that repeatedly, it had been shown that the British and Americans were two peoples divided by a single language, but that thus far no one had done anything much about it. A topical illustration of that fact had appeared in a United Press dispatch from London recently, that Charles Forte had the British practically eating hot dogs out of his hand, big news to sociologists as well as frankfurter makers, as few things in the world were as resistant to change as the eating habits of Britons, and, yet, the "shrewd Italian" had succeeded where many Americans and others had failed in making the hot dog part of the British cuisine, by using psychology along with a few new ideas and serving the hot dogs, pronounced as "hot dahgs" in London.

Mr. May first corrects the U.P.'s suggested pronunciation, that it was an American who would more likely say "haht dahg", that a Briton would say "hart darg" or simply "hot dog", except in certain areas of Leicestershire or Kent, where it was, admittedly, "hawt dawg", and in parts of London, where it was "oddog" or "o'og". He also points out that in England, mustard was strictly optional.

He concludes that it was difficult to explain two such simple words to one English speaker in terms of the other English speaker's English, as well the case with other words. For instance, if an American visitor to London wanted to be taken to the theater in an enclosed car and called for a sedan, he would be met by two men in three-cornered hats carrying on opposing parallel, horizontally-oriented poles something resembling a fancy woodshed.

He points out these differences because it was time they were faced and also because he hopes that in the future all Britons and Americans, in their relations, would constantly remain aware of two things, that sometimes when they seemed to be saying the same thing, they actually were talking about something else, and that almost always when there seemed to be a difference, they would, on investigation, discover that they each meant the same thing.

James Marlow indicates that the primary question now in the Senate hearing in the McCarthy-Army dispute was whether the President had a direct part in calling Senator McCarthy's hand. Army general counsel John G. Adams, during his testimony the previous Wednesday through Friday, had opened up a new topic which led to the White House, stopping just short of the President's door, regarding the January 21 White House conference, anent the subject matter of which Mr. Adams had indicated he was prohibited by executive order from providing any further testimony. Mr. Adams was only able to say that he had told the others present two things, that Senator McCarthy, in his search for Communists in the Army, had said that he wanted members of the Army's loyalty review board to answer questions and that Mr. Adams had been advised at the meeting that he should refuse to allow the Senator to quiz the board members, and that he had said that the Senator and his staff had pressured the Army for special favors for Private Schine and that Mr. Cohn had threatened vengeance against the Army if those favors for Private Schine were not provided, Mr. Adams indicating that Sherman Adams had told him to write down the times and places when those pressure tactics and threats had occurred.

The resulting report by the Army to the subcommittee had been the basis for the entire dispute, when Senator McCarthy claimed that the report was an attempt to "blackmail" him and his staff into ceasing the investigation of the Army, centering on the secret radar facility at Fort Monmouth, which Senator McCarthy claimed was rife with espionage and sabotage agents of the Communists, a spy ring originally formed by executed atomic spy Julius Rosenberg. Meanwhile, Secretary Stevens had already indicated publicly and in the later testimony before the subcommittee recently that not a single spy or Communist agent had been uncovered at Fort Monmouth or anywhere else.

Mr. Marlow suggests that if it turned out that it was the President who decided to take on Senator McCarthy, it would explain some things about why Secretary Stevens had taken on Senator McCarthy in the public showdown, that through all the questioning by Senator McCarthy at the hearings, Secretary Stevens had remained mild, not appearing to be someone whose public career might be decided by the outcome of the hearings, and why, while some of the Republicans, led by Senator Everett Dirksen of Illinois and with the agreement of Senator McCarthy, wanted the hearings shortened as Secretary Stevens was adamant about them continuing in public to the bitter end. Secretary Stevens, being a Republican, must have been under pressure to go along with Senator Dirksen, unless the White House wanted it to be a showdown with Senator McCarthy, such that the Secretary could calmly insist on proceeding.

He observes that the President and Senator McCarthy had tiptoed around each other, neither having criticized the other by name, although the Senator had ripped into the Administration. The President had gone out of his way, publicly, to maintain peace with the Senator. The President had responded to Harold Stassen, head of the Foreign Operations Administration, having told Senator McCarthy the previous year that he was undermining the foreign aid operation's efforts to shut off trade with Communist China, by saying that Mr. Stassen had meant to say that the Senator had "infringed" on those efforts, not undermined them, leading Mr. Stassen to agree with the President.

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