The Charlotte News

Monday, January 6, 1947


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the President had delivered this date at 1:00 p.m. his State of the Union message to the new 80th Congress, seeking enactment of a four-point program: legislation to outlaw jurisdictional strikes and secondary boycotts seeking unjustifiable objectives not related to wages and working conditions; referral of unsettled disputes by either party to binding arbitration through the Department of Labor; and creation of a temporary joint commission to study labor-management relations and make legislative recommendations by March 15—prior to the March 31 deadline set by John L. Lewis for renewal of the coal strike.

His message also urged a higher minimum wage, a national health care program, a new department of welfare, housing legislation, and consolidation of the Army and Navy under a Department of Common Defense. He sought cooperation between the Administration and the new Congress for the benefit of the people.

He had begun his 45-minute message

The President wore a double-breasted dark coat, dark striped trousers, a white shirt with a turned-down collar, and a black four-in-hand tie with a thin white stripe. What he wore underneath the attire was not mentioned.

The new Congress believed that the import of the message was to pass new labor legislation as soon as practicable. Senator Robert Taft found the President in agreement with about half the proposals within the new version of the Case bill, previously sustained on veto in June, and that he had not ruled out the other provisions.

Members of Congress were already proposing several bills for the benefit of veterans, to afford a new soldier's bonus, cashing immediately of terminal leave bonds, and providing a boost in Government payments to veterans.

In London, it was reported that the British were preparing for the largest military offensive ever in modern Palestine to eliminate the Jewish extremists in the country. The Foreign Office stated that it did not intend to consult the State Department on a day-to-day basis regarding the situation.

The U.S. had requested that Russia and China reach agreement to end Russian military control of the Manchurian port of Dairen and open it to world traffic under Chinese administration. The move came in response to Russia giving a U.S. merchant ship twenty minutes to leave Dairen on December 20, a directive obeyed because the ship had overstayed its 48-hour permit. The State Department had found the directive legal under the prevailing circumstances, which it hoped would be changed. The diplomatic note also expressed the desire that the Changchun Railway in China be returned to operation as soon as possible.

Lt. General Lucius D. Clay was appointed commander of U.S. occupation forces in Europe, succeeding General Joseph McNarney, assigned to the military staff of the U.N., succeeding General George Kenney. General Mark Clark, head of the U.S. occupation forces in Austria, was assigned to head the Sixth Army in San Francisco, succeeding the late General Joseph Stilwell.

The National Education Association asked that the Government eliminate disparities in educational opportunities across the land, to be accomplished through taxation of the wealthy.

In Newark, O., a 72-year-old woman, a collector of lace, perhaps arsenic, was charged with the handsaw slaying of her husband, whose dismembered body had been found scattered in the backyard of their home. She told police that during the previous week she had pounded her husband, who had tried several times to kill her, into unconsciousness after failing to dispatch him with a small knife, then cut him up in the parlor. She also had burned parts of his body in the stove. She then inquired of the police, "And now can I go home?"

Why not? Everybody else does. A momentary loss of control. A warning not to repeat the behavior in the future ought suffice.

On the editorial page, "The Issue Is Bigger Than Bilbo" finds the Republican attempt to unseat Senator Theodore Bilbo, unfit though he was to serve, turning into a cynically partisan circus, with a Southern filibuster now holding up business in the new Senate. Senator Taft had counseled that the re-elected Senator could be refused his seat on any grounds desired as long as it had the assent of the majority of the members.

Senator Clyde Hoey advocated the position that the committee hearings, that of the War Investigating Committee finding him to have used his high position for personal gain, had served as a process of indictment only, and that the charges should be aired in a trial of a sort before any final determination should be made on expulsion. The piece finds this position reasonable.

Given that Mr. Bilbo suffered from cancer, a postponement of action seemed a rational course, though it should not act to avoid debate on the moral issues. A final vote should not occur until all the evidence was adduced before the Senate, to afford the other 95 Senators the right to prove that they were willing to condemn the Bilbo corruption.

"The Good Local Product" comments on Secretary of State Byrnes having been selected as Time's Man of the Year. The selection annually went to the person who was deemed to have influenced world events more than any other during the previous year, which had included, in 1938, Hitler. But the editors of Time made it clear that Mr. Byrnes was selected for his positive influence on events.

The selection was not merely coincidental with the fact that Mr. Byrnes had adopted an anti-Soviet stance during the previous year, one which aligned with the editorial position of the magazine.

Mr. Byrnes deserved the honor for his accomplishments in diplomacy during the year, bringing about by its end a good deal of rapprochement on international disarmament and control of nuclear energy—even if the devil of implementation would ultimately prove to be in the details. He had also recently enabled the conclusion of the five treaties at the Foreign Ministers Council meeting in New York, begun at the Paris Peace Conference.

The piece concludes that Mr. Byrnes had borne out the maxim that a good local product could stand up anywhere on the world stage.

"Senator Hoey Girds for Battle" tells of Mr. Hoey leading other Southerners in Congress to oppose any Republican effort to cut appropriations for the Soil Conservation Service, so important to agricultural progress in the previous decade in the South.

A piece from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, titled "The Poisoned Well of Humor", champions the new film "Abie's Irish Rose", adapted from a play which had run on Broadway for six years, despite the criticism of the film for setting back interdenominational relations by twenty years, for its ethnic and religious stereotyping of Jews and Catholics.

The piece thinks that the type of humor, uncouth though it may have seemed during the slapstick era, was, while based on caricature, the stuff of good, clean comedy, unsullied by malice.

The wells of good will, of which this play and film were exponents, had been poisoned during the Thirties and the war by the Nazis, co-opting the brand of slapstick humor and adding to it the dark edge of mean spirit characterizing the fascist approach.

"As a result we have become artificially tactful, hypersensitive to the plight of those who are forever on the alert for the hidden barb in the most harmless thrust."

We are not quite certain what cataclysmic event occurred in our culture after the renascence of this sort of humor in the late fifties through late seventies, but the well was once again poisoned, seeming to coincide with the same sort of mean-spirited co-opting of the sort of humor by those who despise irony because it exposes them for the dim-witted reprobates that they are, and so seek to censor it, and, failing that, to drive its practitioners to distraction or worse, to own it by using it to their own ends in reverse twists of the ironic statement, in the apparent hope that the double-twist will work to untwist their notorious reputations for facile cogitation and positions adopted on emotion rather than thoughtful analysis, that they might once again hold sway over a thusly enfeebled cultural mind.

Whatever the reason, beware anyone who tries, for any expressed purpose whatsoever, no matter how subtile, to limit your speech, verbal or written, or other expression of thought to coincide with their belief patterns. The one great mistake, in our estimate, which the Roosevelt Administration made was to make a big deal of the Lizzie Dillings and William Pelleys of the day and seek their prosecution for sedition, prosecutions ultimately dismissed. These personalities should have been dismissed simply as nuts, just as we should dismiss the Blonde and the Limbecks today, usually seditious though they are, while accusing everyone else to the left of Genghis Khan of sedition and treason against their Fascist causes du jour.

They make their fatal mistake in confusing art and irony within the context of writing and theater or other forms of artistic expression with actions in reality accomplished, not for the sake of artistic understanding of life and reality, but rather for the design of hurting their supposed enemies in very real and demonstrable ways, even unto physical injury and death. It is the way of the Fascist, too dumb to effect art or even understand what it means, thus fancying their role in life to be to destroy that which they cannot understand or find suspiciously undermining of their ways and means.

In any event, we shall wait until Lincoln's Birthday in February to complete the assay.

Drew Pearson tells of the advice provided the President by his brain trusters anent price control. Secretary of the Treasury John Snyder had counseled removing the controls before the Republicans had a chance to do so. Housing Administrator and Expediter Wilson Wyatt had argued that there was no reason to try to beat the GOP to a mistake, that the Administration should let them make their own mistakes.

He next tells of the situation in which labor found itself, with little chance of emerging from the new Congress with its present rights under the Wagner Act intact. Mr. Pearson says that, for twenty years, he had advocated outlawing jurisdictional strikes. Someone of the stature of former Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes or Secretary of State Byrnes ought be appointed as an ombudsman to straighten out labor.

Racketeers should be weeded out from the unions. All unions should be required to follow the practice of 40 of 41 CIO unions and publish their books. Unions should be responsible for the contracts which they entered and suffer penalties for their breach. Utility disputes should be settled through compulsory arbitration. Mediation by representatives of labor, management, and the public should occur in all disputes in which the public had a major interest. Implementing such reforms voluntarily would take the wind from the sails of the new Congress and avoid more stringent legislation.

He next informs of Tom Coxe of the Coxe Lumber Co. of Wadesboro, N.C., having been referred by the Treasury Department for prosecution for tax evasion, specifically authorized by Undersecretary O. Max Gardner, Ambassador-designate to Great Britain. Mr. Gardner's brother-in-law, Senator Clyde Hoey of North Carolina, had, in September, 1944, before being elected but after the primary, represented Coxe Lumber on charges of up-grading lumber illegally, in contravention of OPA regulations. Eventually, the investigation was dropped on that occasion, to the consternation of OPA.

Marquis Childs tells of two speeches made in Capetown, South Africa, by Field Marshal Jan Christian Smuts, one for world consumption and the other for a home audience, the former complaining of the U.N. General Assembly approving a resolution against racial discrimination in South Africa rather than referring the matter, as Mr. Smuts thought appropriate, first to the International Court of Justice. He thought the latter body would deem the Assembly without jurisdiction to speak on the matter.

For the smaller domestic audience, he had said that he believed the citizenry of South Africa was solidly in support of his determination not to concede racial equality between non-whites and whites in the country. He stated, accurately, that in 20 years, the whole world would face this issue.

There were 220,000 Indians within the country, most Hindu, most having come to the country as coolies, of the Untouchable caste, either in this or a recent previous generation. Some had become quite wealthy, but all nevertheless enjoyed no civil liberties, unable to vote, able to own property only in certain segregated areas, yet forced to pay taxes.

The resolution before the U.N., introduced by India, had suggested that the Government work things out with the Indian minority. The U.S. and Britain had voted against the resolution. The Moslem countries of the Middle East supported it, as did all countries populated primarily by people of color. Russia also supported the resolution, a propaganda weapon which it had used previously against the West.

The critics of Russia contended that all groups were equally in subjection in the U.S.S.R. But the facts were irrelevant as long as people of color believed racial equality prevailed there.

Mr. Childs suggests that at least in America, there were many who were working to achieve racial justice, unlike the diehard attitude within South Africa. Those persons included Southerners, such as Governor Ellis Arnall of Georgia. Churches were also involved in the effort.

Harold Ickes suggests that the country was better off following the resignation of George Allen as head of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation after a year in the position. The appointment, he believes, had been inappropriate in the first instance.

If, as Mr. Allen contended, he had accepted the appointment with the understanding that he would serve only a year, he was subject to criticism for that alone, as the RFC was set up to establish accumulation of expertise by its members over a period of years. If President Truman had been aware of the stipulation, then it underscored the ineptness of the appointment.

The court jester's last jest, he offers, was his self-serving letter of resignation in which Mr. Allen suggested that the country was well on the way to reconversion, touting implicitly his own effort in accomplishing the feat. Mr. Ickes finds him only to have taken the position to enhance his marketability in the private sector, not for any altruistic purpose.

A letter writer makes note of the first murder in Charlotte of 1947, and suggests that rather than spending so much energy on the controlled sale of alcohol, Bilboism, and Talmadgeism, the newspapers of the city ought focus on preventing murder, vandalism, illegal lotteries, and bootlegging. He favors a return to public hangings as a deterrent to violent crime.

Barry J. Holloway, of the Encyclopaedia Americana Information Service, tells of the ongoing race between the U.S., Britain, and Russia to establish stations in Antarctica. Admiral Byrd had previously found coal deposits in the region. It was believed that there also might be deposits of uranium ore and oil.

In 1774, Captain Cook of Britain discovered Antarctica, reported of its vast and dangerous ice floes, but did not land there. In 1820, Fabian von Bellingshausen found the land mass and named it Alexander Land. In 1841, the British explorer James Ross spent two years in the region, discovering several mountains and a volcano. In consequence, the great bay of Antarctica was named Ross Bay.

In 1911, Britain's Captain Robert Falcon Scott contested Roald Amundsen of Norway to reach the pole from Ross Bay, Amundsen winning the race on December 14—eight years, incidentally, to the day after man's first powered flight, by the Wrights at Kitty Hawk, albeit of only seconds duration, the longer first sustained flight occurring three days hence. Amundsen claimed his area of discovery for Norway, calling it King Haakon VII Plateau. Scott's perilous journey back to base ended disastrously, perhaps monstrously.

Admiral Byrd had visited in 1933 and 1939, prior to the current Naval expedition in which he had only a superficial role, mapping and photographing the region. The polar area was inhabited by four-foot high penguins, thirteen species of seals, and many varieties of fish. There were mountains with 15,000-foot elevations. It was believed that at points the polar cap was fourteen miles thick.

The three powers meanwhile were racing as the three blind mice up the clock to find out whether there was oil and uranium to be had at the South Pole. Hickery, dickery, dock.

We hope that you had a nice Epiphany.

All of which has prompted our occasional correspondent in the Caribbean suddenly to deliver to us another installment from the story he indited in 1991, with the usual assurances that when he wrote the matter, he had never read any of the editorials herein from The News, beyond that handful contained in the biography of Cash by Joseph L. Morrison, a claim which we have, as in the past, doubly and triply verified through unimpeachable sources to be without challenge, indubitably therefore accurate. This abstract, he instructs, occurs at the end of the first chapter, titled "Of Quandaries Revisited", shortly prior to that subsequent, "Of a Southerly Plain".

"Why the latter pun?" we inquired of our correspondent. He shot back, petulantly insistent, "Damn you, you scurrilous cur, insensible jackanape of low breeding and jejune manners the equivalent of a pertinacious drummer, an irresolute, temerarious dromedary of dissolute Rue de Trollop seeking to ferret out the surreptitious within the dins and dives of Storyville. Why does the sun rise in the morning?" (We think that we got the quote down accurately.) He then abruptly terminated his trunk call via the string and tin cans and, characteristically, refused to respond to our further entreaty, coupled with an apology for disturbing his respited quietude in poetic arcana. We let the matter drop.

So here is that which he imparted initially:

Cam rejoindered. "Now, Jack, you wouldn't resort to primordial compulsions on nearly the eve of Christmas, future... Mary would be sorely disappointed."

"Wh-o-y is it so h-o-igh?" The more serious query was struck by the young staff researcher, Herbert Miller—a transplanted native of the Outer Banks who spoke the hoity-toity of the Tidewater.

As Cam had just finished a long series of articles on the slums of Charlotte, it was his topic on which to respond. "Highest per capita in the nation. Atlanta's our only competition. If you haven't figured out why, you haven't lived here long enough. You ever go downtown to some of those hotels on Saturday night? Try it sometime."

"Which hotels?"

"Any hotel. Go into the slum areas. Look around you and tell me what you see."

Ralston interjected with a wry grin, "He may be too young for those hotels, Cam."

Cant followed, "Too young? Why Tom, this boy's twenty. He's practically over the hill for that sort of thing. And besides, those hotels, like Cam says, are every hotel in Charlotte—the sin and fin capital of the Southerly plain."

Cam and Herb resumed their colloquy. "I remember reading your a'ticles on the slums, Mr. T-o-ide. Sounded like a hell of a way to live."

"Hell of a way... Why do you think we have people that live that way?"

"Lazy, some of 'em, maybe."

"Hmmmm, you'd be lazy too, if your best hope in life was to earn $25 a month rolling cotton bales or loading trucks or selling our newspapers to feed a family of ten sleeping in two rooms with rats in the crawlspace vying for a place in the crib, be it for corn or child."

Wilbur heard his opening and exercised his Southern gentleman's elongated vowel sounds. "Oh yes, why it goes way beyond laziness." Wilbur threw his left about in wild willy-nilly as he spoke. "I'm lazy as hell, but I know that I can pick it all up at some point and put it back together when it gets too unglued. Now, you take here a fella who's isolated or has a family and, as Tide said, no real hope of even subsistence income, no education, no opportunity to advance, no opportunity to show what potential he has... How much industry would you show? A man... Why, a man only has so much energy to give. And you deplete it markedly when you take away any real reward for accomplishment and keep pulling the rug out from under him every time he gets enough together to buy one."

"Or woman..." firmly added Harriet Dare, the resident poet and literary contributor and the only female in an otherwise male-dominated world at the News.

"I was intending the generic usage, Harriet, but that's fine. He or she."

Cant appeared petulant, tapping a pen in fast rhythm against the rim of his typewriter. As Wilbur paused, Cant seemed suddenly to relax with a smile and leaned back in his swivel chair. "Well, I don't get much more than subsistence, myself. I don't know about the rest of you...

"You know who Cash reminds me of? I've figured it. That actor in a movie I saw called, 'Slightly Honorable.' What was his name? Crawford...a...Brody..."

Wilbur helped his own roasting. "Broderick Crawford."

"That's it. That's him with a Yankee accent."

Harriet mocked annoyance at the comment. "Nonsense. I think, more like our version of Andrew Jackson. Once he gets famous, there'll be another war between North and South Carolina as to who gets to claim him just like around Waxhaw with Old Hickory."

"Hickory, dickory dock, the mouse ran up the clock..." Uncle John, characteristically throwing the last of a still lit butt into the paper-filled and sometimes incendiary basket next to his desk, offered the filler. "The clock struck two and there he flew, cuckoo. Hickory dickory dock."

"No more Christmas cheer for Uncle. What are all o' these children's rhymes floating about in here? What are you two plotting over there?"

Wilbur had noticed Cam and Pete whispering to each other while staring at him with bemused grins. Cam said something which made Pete collapse in hysterics. He responded to Wilbur's inquiry. "Oh, nothing that the hounds of Hecate would approve."

"Well, if memory serves, Hecate had three heads and one was benevolent. So I'm not altogether sure I care for the imagery." "Aeschylus has spoken, Cam."

Wilbur continued: "Ah, Aeschylus... Let me try to recall for you now from junior year, I think it was, Wake Forest College. Hmmm-mmmm... Keep in mind that then I was so nervous that I fumbled half way through. The professor felt so sorry for me that he gave me a gentleman's 'B', as I recollect. I shall try to recoup my honor. Alright, ready?"

Wilbur then provided his recitation from memory: "'I have made suit to Heaven for release. A twelvemonth long from this hard service, here. At watch on the Atreidæ's roof to lie as if these arms were paws and I a dog. I know the nightly concourse of the stars and which of the sky's bright regents bring us storm, which summer; when they set, and their uprisings. Once more on guard I look for the signal brand, the flash of fire that shall bring news from Troy and bruit her fall: so absolute for hope is woman's heart strong with a man's resolve. And, now the dewy, vast and vagrant night is all my dwelling, never visited by dreams; for Fear, not Sleep, stands fast by, so that sound slumber may never latch my lids; and would I sing or whistle, physicking the drowsy sense with music's counter-charm, tears in my voice, my song soon sinks to sighs for the changed fortunes of this house, no more, as whilome, ruled and wrought with excellence. Oh, that the time were come for my release! Oh, for the gloom's glad glow of herald-fire!'"

The rendition was not precisely verbatim from the original because Sleepy's mind did not function well when constrained to verbatim recollection. A couple of words of the speaker's own were substituted for those of Aeschylus: "dwelling for "lodging" and "time" for "hour". He also transposed "sleep" and "Slumber". But it was close enough to the original for the meaning to be exposed unchanged. He was careful to remain faithful to the substance of any referenced passage.

Pete smiled, tossed his head backward and applauded the effort. "Impressive... You can always depend on Sleepy to awaken fires. Uncle John, you've a competitor in the arson department. Agamemnon, is it not?"

"You win the door prize. Now, getting back to your Hec images from which you so cleverly redirected my thoughts... Maybe as long as Persephone or even Zeus doesn't mind, I'll accept whatever it is your boiling over there in your slickers."

Cam frowned and shook his head side-to-side. "Well, I'm not sure about the judgment of Persephone. She was tricked, you know, by that damned old Pluto to the wunderworld with a pomegranate."

"The wunderworld... I like that. May I use it, Cam?"

"Why not, Georgey, you use everything else anyone says around here."

Wilbur struck a contemplative gaze back to Cam. "I seem to recall something of that Pluto business. Remind me to tell Mary not to eat any pomegranates in coming times."

"Jack, you are a psychic, indeed, a sayer of sooth. I always knew it."

"Why do you say that, Cameron?"

"Never mind, you'll find out soon enough."

"You know, the more I think of Persephone and Pluto, it reminds me of 'Birth of a Nation'."

"Now, there's a wild leaper by the Sleeper. I haven't heard old Tom's work mentioned in awhile." The mention had awakened Pete's memories of childhood moviegoing. "How in Hades do we get from the Greeks to Tom?"

"Have you ever studied the Eleusinian Mysteries?"

"Well, more or less. What Southerner with two cents of education hasn't? The Greeks still live in the South, don't they?"

Harriet quipped, "Columns of 'em..."

"Newspaper columns or white Dorian columns?" Cant couldn't resist expanding the pun.

Herbert squinted his eyes tight and scratched the nape of his neck in apparent puzzlement. "What are Dorians, anyway? I mean, I know about the plain column stuff, but what..."

Cant adopted a derisive air. "Herb, my boy, haven't you been to school? They are the relatives of the Gray family over in Winston. They're the ones who stay perpetually youthful in their portraiture."

Cam feigned offense. "Now, Georgey, stop playing with poor Herb's young mind there. They don't teach that stuff about Greek history much anymore. Let Jack explain it. He's the resident expert."

"Oh, I see... Pass the buck to me, now. I'm responsible for the Dorians and Greek history."

"Well, you're the hell-raiser who's trying to get rich off it... You know sometimes, I feel I've so much read the thing—the Great Book, that is— that I wrote it..."

"That's perfectly alright with me, Cam. You can take the credit and the obloquy we they come to burn down the paper.

"Anyway, alright, the Dorians, huh? be it. Herbert, first of all, I doubt seriously a lot of well-educated people—maybe even some of the well-educated in this room—know really until they look it up. So don't feel silly for asking. Let's see. The Dorians were a people who defeated the Achæans around 1000 B.C., I think, and especially influenced Crete and Sparta. They also spread over into Italy, and Sicily and Asia Minor, in there. They had a... separate societies and enslaved their vanquished and such. And generally, they were rather illiterate and backward and brought Greek culture into rapid decline. Sparta pretty much exemplified their rule. The speech was loose and they were poorly acculturated. The architecture was simple and so forth. Like that..."

"Well, Hellen still lives on every college campus between here and Baton Rouge. He'ps keep us upriiights away from them, whatcha miiight call, them commoners of sha'arecropper her'tage... You know?" Cam, as most others on the staff, loved sardonic mockery of the ridiculous, self-anointed high-breds.

"Getting back to old Tom for a minute, I've been none too gentle with him in the book. Hope no one gets overly offended."

Pete offered approval. "And well you shouldn't, Jack. I'm glad the right reverend decided to quit writing that pulp parade. A few more and we would've been in another war. We almost had one anyway last time he started. When did he publish that junk?"

"The Clansman came out in 1905 and 'Birth of a Nation' in 1915, I think. Why?"

"Well, has it ever occurred to you that those riots in East St. Louis and Harlem and Atlanta started happening not long after that book came out?"

"You're right, Pete. I had never made the connection. Very good fodder for an article. But, if anything, I suspect it was the film more than the book which did it. The timing fits the film... Powerful medium with its ability to play with the psyche..."

"I don't know where it's going to lead us." Harriet rejoined the conversational flow in an exasperated tone. "Isn't 'Gone With the Wind' a latter day, subliminalized, less overtly racist version of the same story?"

Cant raised his eyebrows into the wrinkles of his forehead and stared down at his typewriter with a look of intensity. "Well, first of all, I disagree with Jack a little. If you look at the history and the thing... the timing of the film, the Klan had a rebirth the same year that the film was released but before it, I'm pretty sure, and, what? Ten years after the book. Where's the connection outside pure coincidence? And why did it take so long after the book came out?"

"First, a point of order, George. The film preceded the Klan rebirth by a few months. And then you've got to realize that the riots started in East St. Louis in 1917, two years after the picture was released. Now, that picture was seen by a whole lot of people all over just because it was so spectacular for its time. It pioneered the whole genre of the major Hollywood epic. And, of course, as we know, people read books only slowly over time. And the film, no doubt, spurred some people to go back and read that inflammatory trash all over again."

"What, Sleepy, are you saying, that the film spawned rioting in the Negro community?"

"No, I am saying that, indirectly, it did. The vigilante reactionary response to the 'negro party', as the film had it and with a small 'n', to boot, was almost assuredly resurrected by that film. And that likely precipitated a violent response in the Negro community.

"But getting back to Harriet's question. I think 'Gone With the Wind' is very definitely a subtle rehash of the same sorts of images. I'm not saying Margaret Mitchell necessarily intended it that way in her book but the film certainly conveys that in the images of blacks. And that awful 'credit to my race' comment last winter by Hattie McDaniel when she got the award. I'm glad she won, but who wrote that crap for her? I guess Hollywood just couldn't let someone from the black community go up and gracefully accept an award. What was it? I think...the first time in twelve years of those things, that a black person got one. Too bad we can't go back and scare up some reels of 'Birth of a Nation' and rekindle our memories on it, do some comparison work."

"Well, I see what you two are saying about the Civil War portion of the film, but 'Gone With the Wind' doesn't go into the origins of the K.K.K. or seek to promote that."

"Well, George... When will men learn to listen? We just said, didn't we? The whole point is that 'Gone With the Wind' is more subtle. Don't take things so literally."

"Thank you, poetess..."

There was a pause, pregnant with unpoetic tension.

"Oooh, that fell like a thud of rocks in a quarry." Uncle John was fond of throwing out shop-worn similes—usually, however, with a twist to enable them to wear better, if only slightly: "Or maybe pomegranates in Mt. Airy's quarry."

George sheepishly grinned. "Sorry..."

Wilbur again picked up the discussion. "Too bad we can't get into that in print without Bowden warning us of the perilous consequences of defamation of Hollywood's moguls—as if they were really going to be interested in what we print here in Charlotte anyway. One would think that Bowden still thinks they might set up shop down in Southern Pines."

"Or", chimed Cam, "the perils of defaming the right Reverend Mr. Thomas Dixon, hisse'f. And, Jack, don't a-go underestimatin' the perspicacious powers of perception of Mr. J. E. Bowden. He may be a knowin' somethin' we simple country bawys ain't got 'nough sense ta."

The mocking brought general derisive laughter, aimed mainly at the notorious Shelby product of 'Look-away Dixon-land'.

The conversation had derailed Wilbur's thoughts momentarily back to his youth and his early reading of Dixon's racist novels for the rapt rappee-chewers. They had obtained, both in the North and the South, the adoration of the masses embroiled in partipris and prissy parties, spawned particle adoring champions of the run-on myths of pure Aryan aristocracy, here and, perchance, abroad. Wilbur's memory focused for a moment on The Clansman's climactic intercourse with epic episcopy in D.W. Griffith's cinematic ode to racial purity based on the novel, with its silent mocking of blacks on the one hand and invidious derision on the other, culminating in the subtitle: "The former enemies of North and South are united again in common defence of their Aryan birthright." Wilbur pondered its bitter irony: Some unity—some defense.

The idealistic young Herb brought Wilbur's thoughts back to the flow with a query posed in a sensitive, quavering voice: "How can we of this old-fashioned print medium keep up with the more palatable pap they project on the silver screen every day for everybody old enough and wise enough to babble 'hickory, dickory dock'?"

"Ouch, I think Herb has taken the measure of Uncle John, over yonder." Cant's comment again brought a punctuation of laughter.

"No, I mean..." Herb stopped short, evidencing timidity in the face of the seeming ridicule in response to his inquiry.

Wilbur quickly came to the aid of his callow associate. "Yes, I agree wholeheartedly, Herbert. All that mythology has wasted so many lives."

Expressing thanks for the rescue, Herb began nodding his ready approbation at the tacit verbal applause from his soon-to-be-published and increasingly roly-poly, sometimes given to roistering, philosophical role model.

"So many lives—death, destruction on both, all sides, those led by the forces of restriction and those given more to a better understanding of true democracy, alike—which could have turned to creative impulses."

Not willing to allow the resultant sobering shroud to last but a second, Cant pierced it. "Hey, Zarathustra, write the little corporal that line."

"Good one, George. Nice transition. Do you remember that the main character in 'Birth of a Nation', the guy who founds the Klan, was referred to as 'the little colonel'? And we were all sitting there in tears, yelling our fool, adolescent heads off about it. Maybe, it was Hit-fit's inspiration after all, the more I think of it. To think a Shelby product might have..."

Wilbur stopped short, staring as if horribly coming to grips with something as he spoke. He caught himself after a moment.

"That's a good idea. An open letter to Hades."

"It won't get through. That mad dog, Cerberus, bars the entrance. And don't worry about Shelby products, Jack. You're about to right the wrong and balance off the sunset with a new rise."

"Now, there you go... Leave it to Ralston to inject some obscure Greek mythology and disconnected, double-entendre poetic imagery and placating declarative all in one terse expression.

"But I think it's that damned old Confederate who's been hanging around here of late who guards the entrance—at least to this outpost of Hades."

Ralston's brows lifted in smiling surprise. "Old Confederate hanging around? That sounds like a euphemism for Satan, himself, Cant. That's not bad. Have to use that in an article or two: 'The Old Confederate who still hangs around and tromps the South, haunting newspaper offices and newspapermen alike, vying for attention to his cause or trying to run them mad. And, being frustrated at home or maybe buoyed by listeners elsewhere, he has gone now abroad through the world haunting Europe and Great Britain, the whole civilized world. And Tom Dixon from Shelby reconstructed him, gave him breath, and let the Old Confederate out of his boxed coffin.' Maybe, those sun disks on the Masonic Building in Shelby were their inspiration, after all.

"Look at Cash. Just the sound of my words has him looking like he's seen a ghost."

Indeed, Wilbur had turned pale and still at the mention of "the Old Confederate".

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