Abilene Reporter News (Newspaper) - May 27, 1954, Abilene, Texas
/ rf -(Rje Abilene Reporter"WITHOUT OR WITH OFFENSE TO FRIENDS OR FOES WE S KETCH YOUR WORLD EXACTLY AS IT GOES"—Byron
VOL. LXXIII, NO. 343Associated Press (AP) ABILENE, TEXAS, THURSDAY MORNING, MAY 27, 1954 —'TWENTY-SIX PAGES IN TWO SECTIONS
PRICE DAILY 5c, SUNDAY 10c
U.S. Seeks Guns on Ship Through (anal
WASHINGTON, May 26 tfv-The State Department said tonight the French freighter Wyoming is be ing searched by U. S. Customs inspectors at Cristobal, Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal, to determine whether customs regulations have been violated—presumably by carrying arms not shown in the cargo list.
A statement issued by the department did not say specifically that arms were believed to be on board—possibly destined for Guatemala—but officials said that was the reason for the search.
The French Line office at Cristobal said the Wyoming carried a general cargo and that “no arms are aboard.” The agent said the Wyoming is expected to pass through the canal tomorrow en route to El Salvador, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver, B. C.
The Wyoming is an 8,693-ton vessel, built in 1949 and fitted out in Le Havre, France.
The State Department’s announcement said:
“Before entering the canal, the French Line merchant vessel S.S. Wyoming, which is now at Cristobal, is undergoing inspection by U.S. Customs inspectors to determine whether there has been a violation of customs regulations.
“The ship's manifest reflects a miscellaneous cargo comprised principally of machinery.
“Included are five boxes of sporting arms but it is understood that no question is being raised about these.
“The inspection is being conducted with the knowledge and approval of the French government and the French Line.”
Reports reached the government here late last week that two more shiploads of Communist arms were en route to Guatemala which earlier had received a 10 million dollar, 2,000 ton arms shipment from the Communist Polish port of Stettin. Officials said tonight that they could not state whether the ship l>eing searched was one of the two about which reports had been received.
They said only that certain information had come to the attention of U.S. authorities indicating that there might be more than the five boxes of sporting arms on the Wyoming.
In response to questions about whether inspection procedures at the canal were being tightened, officials said only that in view of the reports of possible new arms shipments to Guatemala American authorities are “keeping their eyes open.”
American Bomber Flying to Area
WASHINGTON, May 26 Ub-The Air Force announced today that three of its big intercontinental atomic bombers will make a demonstration flight tomorrow over Nicaragua at the request of the Nicaraguan government.
It appeared to be a “flag-showing” maneuver in the tense Central American situation, although the Air Force did not describe it as such.
Nicaragua is a neighbor of left-wing Guatemala, which has obtained arms from Communists behind the Iron Curtain. The United States is rushing military equipment to both Nicaragua and Honduras.
The Air Force said the formal reason for the flight of the B36 s was a Nicaraguan request that they take part in Army Day ceremonies tomorrow.
TOOTHSOME TRUTH, AND NOTHING FISHY
JUNCTION, Tex. (AP)—A game warden found Sam Gadberry of San Angelo wading up the Llano River, his arms in the water.
Aha, “grabbing” for fish? This is legally frowned upon.
“Nope,” said Gadsberry, “I’m looking for false teeth!”
“You’d better find them, then,” replied the law.
Bending the laws of chance, Gadberry found the teeth, lost by a helper on a drilling crew. The discovery saved a trip to the courthouse on a game law violation.
Ship Toll Up to 91
QUONSET POINT, R.I., May 26 (A*)—A devastating explosion followed by searing flames took a toll of at least 91 dead and 201 injured aboard the aircraft carrier Bennington today in one of the worst peacetime disasters in U.S. Navy history.
The Navy announced the high casualty figure some 17 hours after disaster struck the Bennington as she cruised calmly some 75 miles at sea.
Scores were trapped by the tremendous blast below the flight deck. Hatches and bulkheads were sealed, blocking off escape for many. Some suffocated, others perished in flames.
Crewmen who survived told of escape hatches sealed by explosion ‘cluttered with bodies of injured and dying men.”
Seaman Edward Cushman of New Milford, Conn., related how he talked by phone for an hour and three quarters with an unknown number of trapped buddies until they suffocated.
“The last words I heard were
‘This is my last breath,’” Cushman said. “Hatches were blown closed and bulkheads were curved in,” said George Vega, 25, Brooklyn, N.Y. “Everybody worked hard but we were too late.”
It was one of the worst peacetime disasters in U.S. Naval history, being exceeded only by the collision of the destroyer-mine-sweeper Hobson and the carrier Wasp in 1952 in mid-Atlantic. The toll then was 178 missing or dead.
The 32,000-ton Bennington was northbound in serene seas under a sunlit sky when the big ship was shaken by a loud explosion.
“We had just completed our first successful launching of the first of our air groups,” said the Bennington’s new skipper. Capt. W. F. Raborn Jr. of Oklahoma City, “when suddenly an explosion shook the forward part of the ship down on the second or third deck.
“Realizing a catastrophe had occurred we launched the rest of the air group to free the decks for casualty control.”
70-90 MPH Winds
Hit Bronte, Winters
Roof Blown Off; Windows Broken
An Investigation Is Ordered
Secretary of the Navy Charles casualties among the officers might
Thomas flew on from Washington and after conferring with Capt. Raborn said he had ordered an investigation of the tragedy.
He expressed sympathy for the men of the Bennington and their families, as did President Eisenhower in a White House announcement.
Adm. John Hoskins, who lost his right leg in the Pacific, directed the helicopter rescue operations. He said many lives were saved by prompt evacuation by air.
He said the exact location of the explosion was not known but that it probably was in the general vicinity of the ward room. In naval parlance the ward room is “officers’ country.” If this proved true
Hoskins said the tragedy was one of the worst in peacetime he could
recall. He added that he didn’t believe there was any possibility of sabotage but that such an angle will be investigated along with sev-eral others.
Secretary Thomas said a naval Board of Inquiry will meet tomorrow. He said search for bodies in the Bennington still was continuing.
Later Capt. Raborn said “I am damn proud to be commanding officer of such a heroic, unselfish crew of American seaman.”
He said he believed all the bodies had been removed; that the fire was relatively minor, and that the damage was caused by the explosions.
Rapisl Is Saved From Electric (hair For Seven Days
HUNTSVILLE. Tex., May 26 t*-Only minutes before his head was to be shaved for electrocution, Charles Klinedinst got a seven-day reprieve tonight.
The 29-year-old Dallas man convicted of rape and already resigned to die within a few hours—a few minutes after midnight—was first overcome with emotion.
“I knew God was on my side,” he said a few minutes later. Earlier today he had said, “I am not afraid to die for I have found peace.”
Puerto Ricoans Held On Sedition Charge
WASHINGTON, May 26 (Jfl-Atty. Gen. Brownell today announced a sweeping roundup of 11 leaders of the Puerto Rican Nationalist party on charges of seditious conspiracy to overthrow the United States government.
It was not immediately disclosed whether the arrests were aimed at nipping a new outbuilt of terrorism and violence by Puerto Rican extremists. such as the bloody shooting affray in the House of Representatives last March 1.
Some Heard Three Explosions
Some survivors said they heard at least three explosions.
The skipper of the Bennington said the explosion was near living quarters and that is why so many lives were lost.
Hoskins said a court of inquiry had been appointed and that he is the president of the board. He said hearings will be open to the press while non-classified material is being put into the record.
Capt. Raborn described the disaster this way:
“I was standing on the bridge at about 6:20 a.m. I noticed a puff of white smoke up forward. There was a small explosion followed by a larger explosion. I ordered the planes launched. We got off about 60 planes. We lost no planes.”
In a question period Capt. Raborn said there were many acts of heroism and that he is confident there will be many citations.
The 76 patients at the base hospital at the Newport Naval Station all were described as “bed cases, men in no condition to talk.” Officers in charge of the hospital banned interviews, explaining “these men have been given sedatives and can’t be disturbed,” Back in the base theater at Quon-set about 100 members of families of the crew sat in anxious silence, waiting for word of their loved ones.
Tales of heroism unfolded after the carrier docked here about 12:30 p.m.
Grim lines of crewmen, their faces smoke-grimed and oxygen masks hung over their shoulders, lined the deck of the carrier when she docked. Scores of ambulances and stretchers waited to spring into instant action in getting the injured to hospital.
Helicopters Take Wounded Ashore
Helicopters had taken off some He placed the general location as of the more seriously wounded as ¡n the Bennington moved slowly toward shore. They were landed in a field near the Newport Naval Hospital.
Ens. Robert Grant of Brooklyn,
N.Y., unmindful of raw bleeding ankles, directed the evacuation of the injured.
“This was worse than war,” he said with a tight-lipped, strained expression.
He told of the explosion blowing in a hatch and of “five guys” vanishing in the terrific blast.
He said some men formed a j chain by holding hands and the lead man groped his way to the starboard side forward. Grant said he apparently went unconscious and when he came to he gasped:
“Thank God, I had my clothes on.“His hair and eyebrows were singed. Of his bleeding ankles he said:
“That’s nothing compared to what happened to some of my buddies.”
Capt. Raborn, who took command of the ship on May 5, said he ia “mighty proud” of the way the crew handled things.
The cause of the explosion was undetermined, Capt. Raborn said.
one of three or four “major items of equipment.”
“The best information,” he told newsmen, “is that it occurred possibly at the 5-inch fuse magazine.” But he added:
“This is completely unconfirmed and until we do get information I can only say it was a serious explosion at the third level on the port side.”
One survivor, Francis Toth, aviation electrician’s mate from Phoe-nixville. Pa., volunteered for the fire control crew, he said, because “I just couldn’t stand there. I had to help.”
He estimated it was about an hour before rescuers reached the victims.
“After that,” he said solemnly, “we just dragged out bodies.”
Capt. Raborn previously had been assistant director of the Navy’s guided missile division in Washington. During World War II he served as executive officer of the carrier Hancock in the Pacific. He ia a native of Decatur, Tex., was graduated from the Naval Academy in 1928 and has a wife and two children.
'This Is Hy Last Breath', Buddy Hears
QUONSET POINT, R. I., May 26 The words came slowly— “This is my last breath.’’ Then the phone went dead.
“It isn’t fun to hear men die,” said seaman Edward Cushman of New Milford, Conn., today as he told of talking by telephone with doomed buddies trapped below deck of the explosion-wracked aircraft carrier Bennington.
Cushman said he talked to personnel just before they suffocated in the Bennington’s damage control center as shipmates struggled feverishly through smoke and debris to reach them.
“I talked with those guys for an hour and three quarters,” Cushman said. “They were pleading to hurry up and get to them before they ran out of air.
Wet Rags on Faces “We told them to lie face down with wet rags over their faces, but it didn’t help much. The last words I heard were ‘This is my last breath.’ ”
George Vega, 25, Brooklyn, N.Y., a fireman, said he also talked with the trapped men by phone.
“They said they were suffocating and asked us to please hurry up and break through,” Veta said. “I dropped the phone and tried to get down there.
“Hatches were blown closed and bulkheads were curved in. Everybody worked hard but we were too late. I think only one of those guys was still alive by the time we got there.”
Another fireman, Merle R. Wilson, 23, Clarion, Iowa, said "a chief carpenter down there pleaded with us to get in with oxygen.”
“He said he wanted to get the other guys out first,” Wilson said. “He was one of the men we found dead in there.
“Just as soon as the fires were killed and we could get down, men with oxygen breathing apparatus went below to get the casualties,” Wilson related.
A Lot of Bodies “We found a lot of bodies on the forward mess deck and I guess about one third of all the steward’s mates were killed,” he said. “Other dead were in the warrant officers’ wardroom and the port catapult rrom.”
Wilson added grimly:
“When we get down there pumping I suppose we’ll find other bodies under the water.”
Still stunned by their exerience and loss of their buddies, neither Cushman, Vega nor Wilson could say how many were in the damage control center or in other sections.
But they agreed everything possible had been done to reach the trapped men.
“Nobody goofed off or chickened out,” said Veta in talking service slang meaning shirked duty.
REVtEW TESTIMONY—During a recess of the Rebecca Estes Gray will contest in Monahans, Dr. Harold Cooke (left), president of McMurry College, and Carl Springer, proponent attorney, both of Abilene, review previous testimony in the trial. (Photo by Bill Billingsley)
Surgeon Testifies In Fight Over Will
ABILENE SAILOR CALLS MOTHER; HE'S NOT HURT
A worried Abilene mother broke down and could hardly talk Wednesday night when she answered the phone and her son said “Hello, Mother.”
It was Charles Ray Meade, petty officer of the USS Bennington, calling his parents from Providence. R. I., to say that he was not hurt.
Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Meade, 626 Grand Ave., received the call at 10:30 p.m. as they waited anxiously for news of their son.
It was a terrible thing, Charles Meade told his parents. He said bodies were still being dug out of the debris and that some were so badly mangled that they were not recognizable.
He said he was not hurt in any way.
A late dispatch from the associated Press Wednesday night said the “seriously injured” list from the carrier disaster was in and no Texans were listed,
Special to the Reporter-News
MONAHANS, May 26 — A Houston brain surgeon testified here Wednesday afternoon that medical history of Mrs. Rebecca Estes Gray indicated cancer might have affected her mind several years before she died.
Mrs. Gray died Sept. 11, 1952, at the age of 63. She drew up her will in June of 1951 and added a short codicil to the will in August of 1952.
The bulk of her estate was willed to be divided among four Methodist institutions, including McMurry College at Abilene.
Relatives are contesting the will in Judge G. C. Olsen’s 109th District Court on grounds that Mrs. Gray was not of sound mind when the will was made and that she was unduly influenced by members of the institutions.
Judge Olsen earlier admitted as
evidence a report fixing the value of the estate at $432,579.41. Dr. Harold G. Cooke, president of McMurry College, has estimated that each institution’s share of the legacy would amount to several hundred thousands of dollars.
Dr. Brown, who had no direct association with Mrs. Gray during her lifetime, testified after he examined hospital records, X-rays and heard contestants’ attorneys recite her medical history.
The surgeon said these things indicated to him that the cancer Mrs. Gray had, which was a slow-growing type of cancer, might have had some effect on her mind several years before she died.
Some of the symptoms recited by the contestants’ attorneys and shown in the records were nausea, dizziness, lack of interest in activ-
Sre SURGEON. Page 5-A, Col. S
FRENCH USE BAYONETS
Indochina Rebéls For Assault Near
Two Toxons Dead
Lloyd Coleman, TA, son of Annie Mae Coleman, Dallas.
Lt. (j.g.) Robert Paul Inge, husband of Jana Moody Inge, Houston.
HANOI, Indochina, May 26 (£>— The Communist-led Vietminh tonight were reported building up fast for an all-out assault on the town of Phuly, 30 miles south of Hanoi. French soldiers used bayonets to drive infiltrating rebels out of half a dozen villages within 10 miles of Hanoi.
French military sources estimated that the rebels now had a fighting force equal to nearly two divisions in the sectors of Phuly, Nam Dinh and Thai Binh. The latter two are about 55 miles south-
Heart Attack Fatal To 86-Year-Old Local Hotel Employe
A. G. Wilson, 86, night auditor at the Drake Hotel, suffered a heart attack in the lobby of the hotel about 6 p.m. Wednesday and was pronounced dead on arrival at Hendrick Memorial Hospital.
Mr. Wilson was born March 9, 1868, in England and had lived in Abilene about 20 years.
Only known survivor is his wife of 630 Cypress St.
Mr. Wilson was a member of St. Paul Methodist Church.
Funeral services will be conducted at 4 p.m. Thursday in Elliott’s Chapel of Memories. Dr. C. A. Long, district Methodist superintendent of Abilene, will officiate.
east of Hanoi and are centers of textile manufacturing as well as big rice market centers.
Only six miles away from Thai Binh, the French blew up two posts today under the protective cover of tanks, armored cars and planes, and evacuated the area. The two posts, Trannhe and Doaithon, had been subjected to constant encircling maneuvers and harassing night attacks.
The French air force announced,
t. *. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE tt BATHER HI RE AC
ABILENE AND VICINITY- Partly cloudy Thursday and Friday with possible afternoon thunder ahowera. Hi«h both days » to 90. k>" Thuraday nifht *5.
NORTH CENTRAL TEXAS: Partly
cloudy Thuraday and Friday with local thtmdrrutorma. No important temperature ctumfae.
WEST TEXAS: Partly cloudy Thuraday and Friday with local thuadaratorma. moatly in extreme east portion. No important changea.
TEMPERATURES Wed. A. M. Wed, T. ML
51 ........... 1:30 M
5« ............ 3:30 8«
57 ............ 3:30 »5
57 ............ 4:30 85
57 ............ 5:30 »5
5* ............ 6.30 S3
62 ............ 7:30 7»
71 ............ « 30 71
7« ............ 9:30 71
77 ............ 10:30 —
79 ............ 11:30 —
81 ............ 13:30 —
High and low tamperaturae (or 34 bourn ended at 6:30; S3 and 55.
High and tow temporaturaa nama data laat yaar: ft and 74.
Sonnet laat night 7:37 p m Sunriaa today 5:34 a. m. Sunset tonight 7:31 p. m. Barometer reading at 0:30 p. m, 27.94. Relative humidity at 9:30 p. m. 01 por cent.
By DON NORRIS AND STUART CHILTON Reporter-News Staff Writers
Hurricane winds and hail lashed Bronte and Winters was buffeted by 70-90 mile an hour winds Wednesday night.
The turbulent weather, accredited by the weather bureau to a “local thunderstorm” brought possibility of tornadoes in its wake.
The storm formed in the San Angelo area and moved northeastward with its ominous cloud, high winds, and hail. Hail Big as Golf Balls Hail as big as golf balls inflicted heavy damage at Bronte. Winds, estimated to be near 70 miles an hour, unroofed the C. A. Beil home in the southwest part of town. The Bell family, huddling inside the house during the
gale, did not know the roof was gone until they went outside to investigate during a lull.
The storm hit Bronte about 7:30
The Reporter-News correspondent there said windows in churches, schools, businesses and residences were knocked out by the hail. Cars left in the open were battered and some car windows knocked out.
The high winds toppled light poles at the Bronte football field. Starts Breaking Up No injuries were reported by 11 p.m.
Other turbulent weather in the area consisted of an unconfirmed tornado between Stamford and Anson and an alert at Albany due to strong winds. An oilfield worker on a rig near Anson called the Sheriff’s office in Stamford saying he saw a tornado dip to the ground. The report was unconfirmed, the Highway Patrol here said.
Crop damage in the area could not be estimated until daylight.
The Highway Patrol here reported heavy hail fell between Winters and Ballinger as the storm center moved through that area. It was following a northeasterly path.
The weather bureau here said the storm started dissipating as it moved eastward from W’inters. Rain heavy enough to drown out several cars was reported between Winters and Ballinger.
The weather bureau at municipal airport broadcast a tornado alert Wednesday night covering an area on a line 40 miles west of Abilene to Fort Worth. The turbulent weather extended 30 miles north and south of the line. The alert was to last until 1 a.m.
Rainfall Spotty Rainfall was spotty. At Carlsbad, near San Angelo 1.50 inches fell.
A trace fell at Winters. Three miles north of Winters and just north of the Hatchell community they had a hard rain and a small hail storm. Wind velocity in this area was estimated by the Highway Patrol at from 70-90 miles an hour. Damage consisted of limbs blown from trees, and signs blown down.
In Winters proper, residents estimated winds to be no more than 50 mph.
Mrs. B. B. Bedford, Reporter-News correspondent in Winters, said the storm sounded “like a freight train.” She was in a cellar with about 55 persons. It took five men, she said, to keep the cellar door from blowing open.
Raymond Cortez of San Angelo was driving his 1951 pickup near Winters when the storm hit. He said he had to put his truck into low gear to keep it moving.
“It felt like I was pushing a brick wall.”
The storm, coming out of the southwest, hit Winters about 8 p.m. It was described as “boiling — red looking — and kicking up dust." It was black at the top.
Five miles southeast of Winters .80 inch of rain fell. No had In the Norton community, 14 miles southwest of Winters, heavy hail fell.
Damage in Winters was spotted, consisting mostly of twisted tree limbs and scattered garbage cans.
The storm bypassed Ballinger and San Angelo. The San Angelo Standard-Times said the cloud divided and then reformed as it passed through there.
3 Abilenians Gel Suspended Jail Sentences
ANSON, May 26 — Three young Abilene men were each assessed a two-year suspended sentence Wednesday in Judge Owen Thomas’ 104th District Court after they each pleaded guilty to a charge of felony theft.
The three were Frank Gatlin, 19, son of Mayor and Mrs. C. E. Gatlin, 760 Sunset Dr., Abilene; John Forbus, 19, son of Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Forbus, Rt. 4. Abilene; and Charles Bragg, 21, of 1258 North 15th St., Abilene.
Each was named in one indictment charging the theft of the same outboard motor from R. J. Jones, who lives at Fort Phantom Hill Lake in Jones County.
Davis Scarborough. Abilene attorney, represented Forbus and Gatlin and A. J. Smith, Jr., Anson attorney, represented Bragg. Bill Tippen, district attorney, prosecuted the cases.
Bragg was the only one of the three defendants who took the witness stand. Among about 10 character witnesses who appeared for them were three of their parents, Mayor C. E. Gatlin, Mrs. Forbus, and Braggs’ father, Mr. Bragg and also Supt. of Schools A. E. Wells of Abilene. W. E. Fraley, of the Abilene School Board, and W. D. Rich, professor at Har-din-Simmons University and recently elected Abilene city commissioner.
Jones testified while on the witness stand that he was more than agreeable to the suspended sentences and said he thought the young men should be given another chance.
meantime, that it brought out the last batches of French wounded from the fallen fort of Dien Bien Phu late tonight. The last arrivals made up the total of 858 the Vietminh agreed to release.
The end of the evacuations automatically removed the immunity from bombing the French promised for the Dien Bien Phu sector while the wounded were being evacuated by both sides.
French General Ordered to Geneva
GENEVA. May 26 (* — The French ordered a high military commander from Indochina to Geneva today as a showdown neared in the prolonged talks to end years of hostilities.
The French commander was called to the scene to sit down with an opposite number in the Communist-led Vietminh regime and draw cease fire lines should the Indochina conference adopted new proposals advanced by British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden.
Women's New« . .
Po|e« 6, 7
Sport« Newt ....
Peg«« 2, 3
.. Page 4
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.. Rege 9
Old ILU Ahead In Dock Voting
NEW YORK, May 26 UV-The Old International Longshoremen's Assn. won a slim 319-vote margin in today’s dock election, but 1,797 challenged ballots left the outcome in doubt.
Results of the day-long ballot box struggle between the ILA and a new AFL union by the same name were announced by the National Labor Relations Board.