The Charlotte News

Thursday, August 12, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the President, in his midyear report on the nation's economy, declared this date that its overall performance since the start of his Administration in January, 1953 had been better than during any earlier time. He said that the recent decline in economic activity had come to a halt and that there were signs of bright prospects for the future. He minimized the recent economic decline and said that price increases during the first half of the year had been "tiny" and that the purchasing power of the dollar had remained intact, if taking into account bargain sales. He stated that the increase in wages had continued, that while unemployment was greater than during the Korean War, it had not been larger in recent months than during comparable months of 1949 and 1950, with a trend in recent months toward a decline in unemployment, one of several signs of economic improvement.

The Washington Evening Star had reported this date that IRS agents, after an 18-month investigation, had concluded that Senator McCarthy owed an additional income tax plus interest amounting to about $25,000. When asked about the story, he said it was untrue, and the IRS declined comment. The newspaper said it had learned that the IRS would soon present the evidence it had gathered to the Senator and provide him a chance to explain data which the tax investigators did not understand. The revenue agents did not contend that the Senator had fraudulent intent, but rather that he had erroneously classified as nontaxable some of the money he received and on which he should have paid taxes during the period 1946 through 1952. He could pay the back taxes plus interest and the matter would be cleared up.

The Senate defeated a move to sidetrack one of the Administration's anti-Communist bills, sponsored by Senator John Butler of Maryland, to deny collective bargaining rights to labor unions found by the Subversive Activities Control Board to be infiltrated by Communists, designed to rid labor unions of Communist influences, rejecting by a vote of 57 to 31 a substitute measure presented by Senator Warren Magnuson of Washington that instead, a 12-member commission be established to study the whole problem and report its findings by January 2. Senator Magnuson said that he was proposing the only practical approach as the House Judiciary Committee had already shelved the similar measure, backed by Attorney General Herbert Brownell.

At Oak Ridge, Tenn., officials reported that business was as usual this date at the strike-threatened atomic plants there and at Paducah, Ky. Production workers at both Oak Ridge and Paducah had threatened to begin a strike this date, but had relented after a Federal District Court had issued an injunction sought by the Government under Taft-Hartley the previous night. There were no disturbances as the dayshifts reported for work at both plants. The injunction, according to the law, provided for an 80-day cooling off period, during which the workers would continue on the job while management was barred from holding a lockout as negotiations on the contract continued. An injunction had been issued early the previous month in the same dispute, but subsequent negotiations had failed to produce an agreement. U.S. Assistant Attorney General Warren Burger, future Supreme Court Chief Justice, appointed by President Nixon in 1969, following the 1968 filibustered to death nomination by President Johnson of Justice Abe Fortas to the position, flew to Oak Ridge the previous night at the request of the President to obtain the injunction. Both plants produced the entire supply of U-235, necessary in the manufacture of atomic and hydrogen bombs.

Julian Scheer of The News, in the second of two articles regarding the new lithium mining industry in the state, reports from Bessemer City, N.C., now nicknamed "Lithium City", proclaiming itself as the new lithium capital of the world. Lithium had been virtually unknown to the inhabitants a decade earlier, but now was the primary topic of conversation, even in the barber shops. The Bessemer City-Kings Mountain area was presently one of the world's most active lithium ore-bearing sections of the world, and might possess, by the following year, the largest processing center in the world. The ore was known as spodumene, from which the lithium was extracted in a process which included primary crushing, screening, secondary crushing, firing at intense heat, cooling, fine grinding and chemical treatment. The finished product was a critical material in the hydrogen bomb, and the plants were not far from the Savannah River hydrogen bomb facility. Lithium was also used in air-conditioning, greases, welding, ceramics, enamels and cold pills. For the previous ten years, the Lithium Corporation of America had held mineral rights in the area, shipping many train carloads of spodumene ore to its processing plant in Minnesota.

Emery Wister of The News tells of a contract having been awarded to a local construction firm to construct a five-story addition to the Belk's Department Store in Charlotte, at a cost in excess of two million dollars, with the store occupying 219 feet of frontage along N. College Street, and, with the present building, would provide Belk's with a 200-foot frontage on E. 5th Street. The new building would contain 175,000 square feet and would practically double the existing store's size. The president of the construction firm said that work on demolition of buildings presently on the site was already underway and that ground would be broken for the new structure the following Monday, with construction to take approximately 15 months.

It was on the mezzanine in that building, at Christmas, 1959, when we tapped our new red aluminum hula hoop on the floor, unwittingly to the annoyance of the portrait artist rapt in deep attention to getting every feature of his subjects just right for their Christmas portraiture, until his thought train was suddenly interrupted by our unconscious, steady tap-tap-tap on the linoleum tile behind him, prompting him, subito, to turn with a grimacing glare in our direction, placing his finger to his mouth surrounded by his beard and saying, "Shhhh." In deep chagrin, we immediately ceased. Quoth the raven, "Nevermore." As we have previously stated, we still have our red aluminum hula hoop, and you cannot have it. We save it for tapping exercise.

On the editorial page, "Why Can't Planning Be Countywide?" indicates that the City Council had approved a compromise resolution calling for a planning system which would exclude all of Mecklenburg County's small incorporated towns and would not be a joint City-County planning board but would instead be known as the Greater Charlotte Planning Commission. While the piece regards it as better than Mayor Philip Van Every's plan for two separate boards and one staff, it still sidestepped the main issue of having a comprehensive planning program for the whole county to meet the future growth of the community. It again explains its position.

"Consolidation" regards the piece on the page by George C. Franklin as to whether incorporation as a separate town or annexation by the city was preferable, detailing the difficulties, the costs and the duplication involved in setting up a municipality alongside the existing one of Charlotte. Many of the disadvantages applied locally already as between the City and County governments and, it concludes, one community government, consolidated, was the ultimate answer.

"Clark Was Wrong about U.N.'s Role" suggests that retired General Mark Clark had made ill-considered remarks about the U.N. two days earlier in testimony before a Senate Internal Security subcommittee, saying that he hoped the organization would reorganize itself without the Soviets, and that the U.S. should end diplomatic relations with Russia and its satellites. When asked about the comments at his press conference the previous day, the President had said that the U.S. could not possibly serve its interests by severing diplomatic relations with Russia, that many world tensions had eased in the previous couple of years, that the U.N. served as a forum and that if it appeared that the Communists sometimes used the forum for propaganda purposes, it might be because they were more adept in the area than were Americans.

It indicates that General Clark had made the common error of assigning responsibility for world problems to the organization which tried to cope with them, rather than to the conditions which produced the problems. His statement that the U.N. was conducive to Communist representatives roaming around the U.N. obtaining secrets and also around the country appeared not to take into account the fact that Soviet citizens could roam the U.N. without obtaining vital U.S. secrets, as there were no secrets available there, and that travel of Soviet representatives was restricted in the U.S. It indicates that as General Clark was about to head an investigation of the CIA, he surely knew that espionage was a subtle art which could not be stopped by ousting U.N. delegations and embassy staffs from the country.

Furthermore, NATO and the proposed SEATO regional organizations were designed to oppose the Communist world, permitting the free world to mobilize its defenses against Soviet or Chinese aggression. The U.N. did not hamper the operations of those organizations, which were formed in accordance with the Charter, and the organization was the only place where most of the nations met to discuss the problems of other countries. It had solved a lot of small problems and some big ones, would not alone be able to solve the problem of Communism and the conditions which made it attractive to millions of people, but neither would a non-Communist alliance as proposed by General Clark.

"Go, Go, Sonny" indicates that Charlotte this date was sending to Akron, Ohio, its Soap Box Derby champion for 1954, Sonny Bankhead, to compete in the national race and wishes him success, that he might become the second national champion from the South, the first having been in 1952. Young Sonny of Hamlet had become the first local Derby winner during the postwar years to reside outside Charlotte.

A piece from the Winston-Salem Journal, titled "Skimption", tells of conversation proceeding brilliantly at a local party recently, when a man said, "Well, if George is able to do that, I'll give him credit for pulling the skimption of the year." The man's wife asked what a "skimption" was, while another woman said that she played Scrabble and knew a lot of strange words, but had never heard of "skimption", and they began arguing that there was no such word, while the husband remained adamant that there was.

The piece indicates that the word was not in Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, but was used commonly in eastern North Carolina and other parts of the South to mean an extraordinary feat. While it was not recognized by any qualified authority, there were people who swore by it and used it all the time.

We have never heard or read it used to mean an extraordinary feat, but rather to convey a paucity of something, usually money, undoubtedly a formation from skimp. But have it your own way. Most people these days, when they use other than monosyllabic words, such as "iconic", don't know what the hell they're talking about anyway. Ye Fala?

George C. Franklin, general counsel for the North Carolina League of Municipalities and who had been consulted by the newspaper when a fringe area in the county was contemplating becoming a town called Amity, has his reply to the newspaper printed, despite the people in the area having given up the idea of becoming a town. He explains the drawbacks of such a proposal and suggests that annexation was the preferable course.

Drew Pearson indicates that he had heard in western New England a few weeks earlier a complaint from businessmen that industry was moving to the South, that the hat industry was leaving Norwalk, Conn., that the textile industry had departed for Alabama and Mississippi, that chimneys were without smoke and factory walls were glum and foreboding, hearkening the biggest change in the country since the free land was opened in the West.

While that change was taking place in New England, a debate was occurring in Washington regarding the cause for the trend, that New England had the highest electric power rate in the country. Senator John Sparkman of Alabama, which had cheap power from TVA, told the Senate how the power interests had scrapped flood control on the Merrimack River in 1936, the reason, he suggested, why New England power rates were so expensive. Senator Robert Upton of New Hampshire, who had been appointed by the Governor to replace the late Senator Charles Tobey, said that he was one of the commissioners who had drawn up the interstate flood control compact in 1936, and that it had failed because they had looked to Washington for ratification while the public power advocates in Washington prevented ratification.

He had failed to point out, however, says Mr. Pearson, that he had long represented the power companies of New England and that the reason why New England had the highest electrical power rates, in addition to labor costs, was that Mr. Upton had helped insert an important provision in the 1936 flood control compact favoring the private utilities, providing that each of the New England states reserved the right at its option and at any time to develop the water power to be stored by the Federal flood control project, the reason why Washington never ratified the project, which would have given New England cheap power rates and would have helped prevent industry from moving to the South. The clause had been in violation of the Federal Power Act of 1920, whereby the Federal Government, not the states, controlled water power sites. Southern states accepted Federal control of TVA, but New England states had vetoed Federal control of the Merrimack River project. Mr. Upton, as a registered lobbyist for the power companies, had been on the commission that rejected the Merrimack Federal flood control agreement, and now, as Senator, was voting to give control of atomic power largely to private firms rather than to the Federal Government, under the atomic energy bill favored by the Administration.

Mr. Pearson indicates that it was the basic question in the current debate on atomic energy, and that it would affect the future industrial power of the nation far more than the public realized, and for years to come.

Doris Fleeson indicates that former Vice-President Alben Barkley, 76, running for the Senate, in which he had previously served and been Majority Leader, against Senator John Sherman Cooper of Kentucky, had arrived in Washington for a few hours two days earlier to encourage Kentucky Democrats to hasten home and help him campaign to victory. He had accumulated about 150,000 votes in the Democratic primary, to 50,000 in the Republican primary for Senator Cooper, who had won both of his victories with the help of Democratic votes, which Mr. Barkley believed he could now acquire.

The age factor which had caused his rejection as a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1952 was not a bother for the party locally. Senator Theodore Green of Rhode Island was 86 and Senator Matt Neely of West Virginia was 80, with Senator James Murray of Montana being 78 and Senator Guy Gillette of Iowa, 75. Former Senator Joseph O'Mahoney, 69, was a challenger in the Wyoming race for the remainder of the term of Senator Lester Hunt, who had committed suicide recently. Senators Green and Neely were confident of re-election, but Senator Murray was somewhat jittery, though he believed the trend of farmers and miners in Montana was now toward the Democrats.

Robert C. Ruark indicates that he had been following with considerable interest the world tour of J. Fred Muggs, the ape on Dave Garroway's morning "Today Show", as the tour reminded him of certain junkets of members of Congress and other dignitaries in previous years. But most of all, the monkey reminded of the "Bobbsey Twins", Roy Cohn and G. David Schine, and their European tour of Information Service libraries the previous year, ferreting out subversive books or subversive authors, in the meantime becoming an embarrassment to the United States in the European press for their callow hotel antics.

Mr. Muggs had already seen a good part of the world, but Mr. Ruark wants to warn him of Africa, where he would only be an oversized monkey and might be eaten by a leopard, regardless of his status as a television star. He also wants to warn him about white hunters using monkeys for bait in leopard trees if they could not find a pig or a wormy Grant gazelle.

The ape had been a scandal in Paris, drinking champagne, pinching the girls and staying up late.

He concludes that the country had exported a lot of strange things as advertisements for America and that it should stun no one to see a chimpanzee showing the flag on behalf of the country. He thinks that within a matter of months, a delegation of gorillas might seek membership in the U.N. "since there seem to be enough monkeys in it now to make them feel quite at home."

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