THE CLEVELAND PRESS
THE SHELBY PUBLISHING COMPANY
Friday, November 16, 1928
C. J. Mabry ….. President
J. Nelson Callahan ….. Business Manager
W. J. Cash ….. Managing Editor
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Site Editor's Note: Cash rounds out his two months as managing editor of the soon-to-be-decommisisioned Cleveland Press much as he began: exhorting the community to get a library, something which would not happen even for another decade until finally the Carnegie Foundation would sufficiently endow one; waxing once again poetic, now upon the variegated visions of late fall in and around Shelby, in a piece which calls to mind the then written but not yet published or even edited Look Homeward, Angel of Thomas Wolfe; then fretting impatiently about the sad state of affairs in North Carolina which yeasaid improvements to highways while allowing the schools to issue product more likely to work on them than ride on them; and finally ending with some suggestions and predictions on the future of the Democratic Party in the wake of the defeat nine days earlier. His predictions would largely come true for the election of 1932 when many cross-over votes from Republicans went to Franklin Roosevelt's overwhelming defeat of Herbert Hoover.
As to Senator Furnifold Simmons and his defection with the anti-Catholic forces of the 1928 campaign, he was in his last two years in office, failing to win even the Democratic nomination for Senator in 1930. (Among other things, Simmons was chairman of the Committee on Disposition of Useless Executive Papers during the first two years of the Taft Administration; undoubtedly this Committee had enormous piles of work.)
For this final column, Cash left off "The Moving Row" portion. Having cut his editorial teeth on this last losing Democratic election cycle which Cash would ever see, he cleaned the black press ink from his over-worked fingers, turned out the lights, and hiked back to Boiling Springs--to the back room of the tiny post office run by his Aunt Bertha from which he would deliver his first substantial writing, his first real writing, that for The American Mercury of H. L. Mencken.
Forty-six counties in North Carolina are without libraries. Cleveland is one of them. Yet Cleveland is one of the more populous and one of the most prosperous counties of the State. It boasts of its mills, its roads, its agriculture, its schools--but it doesn't afford a library. But most of the sandy counties of the East which must depend entirely on agriculture afford them. So do many of the counties of the mountains, where industrial development is unknown. Clearly, then, Cleveland is not without library facilities because of lack of wealth. What, then, is the reason?
The other day a group of interested workers gathered in Charlotte and laid plans for a campaign with the goal of placing a library in every county of the State. At present, the Legislature appropriates four cents per capita for the benefit of libraries. The American Library Association says the lowest figure at which efficient library service can be rendered is one dollar per capita. The Charlotte group adopted that figure as a goal. Will they get it? Well, what shall we say of North Carolina if they don't?
It is autumn. Had you noticed it?
Oh, you had, at that, we know. The coal man and the bill this month. And the wife buying that coat and the new furs. And you yourself noticing the winter-before-last's overcoat is really a little too short to be smart this year. And you shivering out of bed these mornings to light the fires if you aren't lucky enough to have a furnace with automatic control. Autumn? You swear at it.
But have you noticed the glamorous dress that has come upon the town and the country? The brilliantly yellow sunlight of the early morning that makes houses and trees and fields stand up, limned, as though painted on canvas. The burnt red of oak leaves splashed with bright yellow and backed with the green of pines. The smoky mists on the far blue line of the hills. The sweet dampness of hollows and ravines and brooks where bridges fling across them.
The brown swell of fields, broken here with the white out-bursting of cotton bolls and there with the pale gold of drying grass. The greyness of weathered houses--you always thought they were black before--against the forlorn, denuded arms of old trees. Slender maples, half naked, half-clothed as yet in the shining splendor of their lemon [indiscernible word]-spotted, leaves.
The forlorn, shivering droop of things as evening comes down again and the opalescent after-glow lies on the ring of horizon under a gilded and crimson sky. The hard bright way the stars wink out and gleam as the dark creeps down.
Had you noticed? If you hadn't, you're hopelessly prosaic. And, no, we aren't in love.
THE SCHOOL TAX
In the matter of whether or not the school tax should be raised ten cents, there seems to be but one sane answer--an affirmative.
That the term should be shortened to eight months is unthinkable. It meas that the schools will no longer be accredited and that every student who enters college from them will be faced with many handicaps and difficulties. The employment of poorly paid teachers is just as thoroughly out of the question. Only those who have had actual contact with the problem can understand what a travesty on education it is to employ indiscriminately the material which is poured from the mills of the colleges each year. The possession of a degree, even the Master's, is nothing at all. Thousands achieve such doubtful honors who cannot properly employ the mother tongue.
There should be no question about it. Shelby is attempting to operate its schools on a much cheaper basis than other towns of the same size in the state. That is impossible. It is no pleasant commentary on the State that it complacently spends millions for roads but balks at a school program of the same proportions. Is the automobile, then, more valuable than the child?
Shelby, at least, should keep skirts free of that reproach.
MR. HOOVER'S TRIP
Mr. Hoover will go to South America November 19 on one of those "good-will tours" which have become a fetish of the Coolidge Administration. And the Latin Americans, with the generous impretentions of their race, will greet him right royally, laud him, fete him. The laurels he will bring home will probably almost match those Mr. Wilson fetched from Europe--and they will amount to just as much.
For the obvious fact is that the antagonism of the Argentine, Brazil, Chile and other major countries of the Southern continent is too deep-rooted to be swept aside by fine words and civic club gestures. If the United States proposes to gain the good-will of South and Central America--and their trade--its attitude toward them must become a more just one. So long as might makes right, so long as we feel it our privilege because we are strong to invade tiny states and hold elections to suit ourselves with bayonets and United States Marines, so long as we feel that it is our privilege to reduce native populations to serfdom to serve our rich, so long as we pretend to believe that spurious titles gained by sheer piracy and rascality are binding contracts which must be protected as sacred regardless of the right and wrong of them--so long will the great nations of the South regard us as a potential enemy, and very rightly so.
In short, the Coolidge policy must be abandoned. Mr. Hoover must be judged by what he does in that point, not by the noisy acclaim he may secure from a light-hearted people. If Mr. Hoover fails at this point, he may succeed in fooling his own generation with fanfare and trumpets, but not those inexorable gentlemen who will come someday to writing down the Hoover name in its correct place in the annals of the nation.
AN INTERESTING REASON
Frank Kent, writing in the Baltimore Sun, hazards the opinion that the women beat Al and quotes a prominent woman politician as authority for the statement that, while Prohibition and religion figured in the antagonism of women toward Smith, the main cause for that attitude was something else entirely.
There were, of course, thousands of women who voted against Smith under the impression that his election meant the return of the saloon. It is interesting to note, also, that to point out to most of these that the belief was wholly false in nowise changed their attitude or even their belief. That women feel more strongly on religious issues is coming to be accepted as axiomatic. Women seem to be better partisans than men because of the fact that, having fixed on a goal, they allow no ulterior consideration to sway them from their way.
But, finally, Kent's lady politician finds her sisters voted against Smith for reasons aptly summed up in the phrase "that man!" She reported that women everywhere were perfectly ready to concede Smith's ability, his honesty, his bravery, his humanity. But he was too truculent for them--too much the male. Men warmed up to the derby, the wise-crack, the ever-ready laugh, the gallantry in the face of odds, the determination to gesture, to be gay in the teeth of defeat--all of which distinguished Smith and made him a "man's man."
The thing that cost Smith the lady vote, says the feminine politician, was his lack of decorum and dignity. Women, she says, make these the first things. They are the qualities which a man must have to win the conventionalist, the conservative, and a stickler for form and class. These were the qualities, of course, whichg herbert Hoover possessed in abundance.
The lady finds that wherever intelligence and genuine culture was most marked in women, this argument was discounted. But the lower the woman in the cultural scale, the stronger the prejudice on this point. It was particularly rampant, she states, among the middle class women of the Mid-West and the laboring classes everywhere. Proving perhaps that snobbishness flourishes best where there is the best reason for it.
THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY
With those partisans who demand the scalp of John J. Raskob as chairman of the National Democratic Committee, we haven't the slightest sympathy. They strike us as being almost as poor sportsmen as those others who now are busily bellowing "I told you so. Al Smith oughtn't ever to have run. His defeat was the logical outcome of the Madison Square Garden fiasco and he should have followed McAdoo's lead and retired from the field before Houston."
Which is so much baloney. It was right and proper that Al Smith should have had his chance at the Presidency. He was the outstanding Democrat of the nation. No other candidate can be compared with him in either accomplishment or ability. McAdoo got out of the way when, and only when, it became patent that Mr. McAdoo would have no chance at Houston. There was nothing generous in Mr. McAdoo's attitude and he deserves no credit for having done what he had to do. It was plain that Al Smith did have an overwhelmingly good chance to secure the Houston nomination. To ask him to step down and out because a man who wasn't in the running had done so would have been ridiculous.
Moreover, Al Smith and John J. Raskob have not wrecked the Democratic party. If it had been wrecked, it still would not have been the fault of Smith and Raskob, but of the Simmonses, the Owens, the McNinches, and all the other irreconcilables who refused to conform to the will of the party. But, as a matter-of-fact, Al Smith polled nearly sixteen million votes, more than has ever been polled by any other Democratic candidate. And--what is more significant--a greater percentage of the total popular vote than any other Democratic candidate ever polled. The electoral college showing was of no importance. 350,000 votes shifted to Smith would have elected him.
Again, it is axiomatic that no other Democrat could have won. It is altogether possible that another Democrat might have done better in the electoral vote--if only by holding the solid South. But it is perfectly clear also that another Democrat would have not won Smith's tremendous popular vote. Yet, every vote cast for Smith November 6 is a potential Democratic vote for the future. Some of them will fall away, of course, but many hide-bound Republicans have discovered that voting the Democratic ticket is not necessarily fatal. Against that, of course, is the fact that many Democrats have found the same thing to be true of the Republican ticket. Nevertheless, the fact remains that, on a popular basis, the two parties are more nearly equal in strength than ever before.
It is logical, then, to assume that the Democratic party is more alive and kicking than at any time since the election of Wilson. It has demonstrated its ability to get votes in the East and the West. Credit for that properly belongs to Smith and Raskob. If the South went out of the Democratic column, it was because Smith is Catholic. That is a shame to the South and gives it no basis for a claim to take over the leadership. However, regrettable the precedent, it is clear that the Catholic issue will not soon be raised again. With that out of the way, the outlook for the Democratic party is excellent.
The party is not, then, in need of reorganization. There is no excuse for the South to demand control. None, at least, save that Pharisaical sectionalism--so well exemplified by the McNinch--which assumes that the South is peculiarly the home of virtue and brains. That sort of provincialism has cursed the South long enough. Moreover, it has gone far to explain the refusal of the Eastern and Northern states to ally themselves with the Democratic party. Kick Raskob out, seize the leadership for the South and we'll have that pure Southern Democracy Mr. McNinch weeps for with such lascivious tears--so pure, in fact, that it will get nothing but the vote of half a dozen states for the next thousand years. A party bent on serving one section only, bent on setting up one section as the social and moral criterion of the Republic is inevitably doomed and rightly so.
Nor is the party in North Carolina in need of reorganization. Democrats who stood by Smith are still numbered in the ratio of five to every one who fought him. Mr. Simmons is really being ridiculous when he calls on the party to come to his bosom. The tail does not wag the dog. Mr. Simmons won this time because Smith's Catholicism and the Republican party were on his side. He will have no such allies when he seeks the Senate again. The party, of course, should receive back all bolters who care to come. Even Simmons and McNinch. However, that would not signify that they are to be considered worthy of trust or posts of honor.
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