August 24, 1951 was seemingly one disaster after the next.
Starting with news of the crash of United Airlines Flight 615 near Oakland California, killing all on board. The flight had originated in Boston with several stops before crashing on approach to its final destination. No reports of anything mechanical going wrong, so the FBI were called in to investigate the possibility of sabotage. The plane was one of a new model that United Airlines put into service on August 1st.
And then came reports of a train collision in France where at least 20 were killed including several Americans.
And news of an explosion at a dam construction site near Boulder Colorado, claiming some 11 lives with more unconfirmed, as news continued to break.
In other, less catastrophic, but no less ominous news; the Cost of Living hit a new high in July, meaning a 1 cent an hour increase in wages for Auto and Farm equipment industries workers, whose wages are pegged to the government index. Fears were voiced that, with increases in the cost of living and the raising of wage in all sectors to meet those costs, the very strong possibility of what could amount to a national bankruptcy could result if all those industries raised prices and wages to keep pace with inflation.
The Korean truce talks remained in a state of suspended animation, with Gen. Ridgeway in no hurry to answer the latest communication from the Communists, and his headquarters issuing a statement denouncing the trumped-up charge of Neutral-Zone violations. All that, amid Communist troop buildups along the front, just in case talks completely broke off.
And Congress was getting ready to investigate the Securities And Exchange Commission for the first time since the agency was founded in 1934. The announcement followed a report by the House Judiciary Committee that five former SEC officials were now holding high positions in United Corporation,a utilities holding company. United denied any irregularity in its employment of these former officials. The hearings were scheduled to begin in three weeks and were also going to be public. Let the fireworks begin.
And that’s a small slice of what went on this August 24th, 64 years ago, as reported by Don Hollenbeck, substituting for Edward R. Murrow and The News.