Pat McCrory isn’t the first North Carolina governor to strike back at efforts to make cigarette packaging less appealing.
In 1959, Luther Hodges wired Gov. Ralph Herseth of South Dakota to protest a bill that would require tobacco to carry a skull and crossbones label and the statement “Not recommended by state of South Dakota”:
“I know that you would not want the General Assembly of North Carolina to pass a law requiring that any farm products originating from South Dakota and offered for sale in North Carolina must carry labels warning that, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, South Dakota soil has the highest content in the nation of selenium, a well known poison.”
In response, South Dakota took only three days to kill the proposed anti-tobacco measure. Gov. McCrory can only wish Ireland and France were as accommodating.
“The most famous (or infamous) Charlotte draftee in Germany [during World War II] was probably Lt. Kenneth D. Williams. Williams was the bombardier on a Flying Fortress named Murder, Inc. that was shot down over Bremen in December 1943. The Goebbels propaganda ministry photographed Williams in his flight jacket with ‘Murder, Inc.’ emblazoned across the back….
“One Nazi broadcaster in a ‘howling rage’ reportedly declared: ‘Gangster Williams is now in our hands…. He belongs to America’s secret weapon — a mass murder league — which has been set loose against us.’
“Williams’ mother, inspired no doubt by her son’s situation, would later win an award for selling the most bonds during a local War Bond campaign.”
— From “The Queen City at War” by Stephen Herman Dew (2001)
Actually, engine trouble had grounded Murder, Inc. that day, putting its crew in a backup B-17 nicknamed Aristocrap. Lt. Williams didn’t switch jackets, of course.
Williams returned home in 1945 after 17 months in a German POW camp. In 1956 he was named Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s civil defense director, and he retired in 1983 as county emergency management director. He died in 2003.
His “Murder, Inc.” jacket hangs in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.
Here’s Williams’ first-person account of being shot down, captured and depicted by German officials as a gangster recruited from Alcatraz.
On this day in 1908: Greensboro opens a week of centennial festivities, including a re-enactment of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, a parade of Confederate veterans and the dedication of the 20,000-seat Hippodrome Auditorium. (The corrugated iron building, purchased from the Jamestown Exposition of 1907, is billed as second only to Madison Square Garden in seating capacity.)
The Charlotte Observer reports favorably on “the generosity shown by the Greensboro white people to the negroes in their midst. At the fair the darky has been given a show and in the auditorium a section. This broad-minded way of dealing with the negro caused favorable comment by visitors.”
“[Harry] Golden claimed that Jews and African-Americans shared a friendly history in the South because Southern Jewish store-owners allowed black customers to try on clothes and addressed them as ‘Mr.’ when others did not. ‘The white Protestant in the South loves “the Jewish people,” but is highly suspicious of the individual Jew. His emotions are in reverse with respect to the Negro. He loves the individual Negro, but hates the “people,”‘ Golden wrote.”
— From “Race And Identity In The ‘Golden’ Era” by Eliza McGraw in the Jewish Week (Oct. 20, 2010)
On this day in 1856: Benjamin Hedrick, chemistry professor at the University of North Carolina, publishes a defense of his abolitionist views in the North Carolina Standard of Raleigh.
In response, the faculty denounces him, the board of trustees dismisses him and an unsuccessful attempt is made to tar and feather him at an educational conference in Salisbury. Hedrick, a native of Davidson County, flees to New York and spends the rest of his life in the North.
“Townsmen did not take lightly affronts to their virgins. In Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1845, for instance, three young men had made up enormous posters directing obscenities against ‘some of the respected young ladies of the community,’ the local editor said, and had nailed the signs to the courthouse door.
“Early the next morning the villagers were highly agitated. The town’s young men found the culprit out, gained confessions and rode all three on a rail, each covered in the customary feathery garb. The newspaper piously denounced the rough work, but excused it on the grounds that all townsfolk had agreed about the imperative for ‘summary punishment.'”
— From “Southern Honor: Ethics and Behavior in the Old South” by Bertram Wyatt-Brown (2007)