The Charlotte News
Thursday, December 5, 1940
Matanuska Settlers Take Santa Claus Literally
It was, we suppose, to be expected what with their living out there practically under the North Pole and so subjected to the Santa Claus influence even more than other Americans. Anyhow, all is not well in Arcadia.
Arcadia, in this case, is the Matanuska Valley in Alaska. It became Arcadia back in the early days of the New Deal when the Alaska Rural Rehabilitation Corporation was established to transplant a number of Dust Bowl farmers and other victims of farm poverty and give them a new start in virgin country. The Federal Government furnished everything on the cuff--land, houses, stock, implements, supplies to tide them over. And after some preliminary grumbling, things settled down and went off pretty well. Most of the settlers stayed and began to wax relatively prosperous.
But December 1 of this year was the deadline for the settlers to begin to pay the Government back--in part. Some of them stepped up manfully. But some of those who owed the most refused. And now Dr. Herbert C. Hanson, manager of the ARRC, is having to threaten foreclosure.
It isn't that the Doc wants to be hard on people who can't pay. There aren't any, for most of the settlers are working at the new air base being built at Anchorage and making from $7 to $12 a day. Trouble is simply that the balky settlers now have a movement--a movement to have the Government abandon its claims to repayment and make them a flat gift of everything, houses, stock, tools, as well as land.
That, you see, is what comes from living right in the shadow of old Santa Claus.
Which, However, Leaves a Judge Somewhat Unimpressed
The judge had more sense than the law, which sometimes lives up to Mr. Bumble's celebrated gloss upon it.
Before Federal Judge George A. Walsh in New York was Frank A. McElherron. Mr. McElherron is a ship's engineer, which sounds natural; ship's engineers are a clan who seem naturally to gravitate to names beginning with "Mc."
As a ship's engineer, it is Mr. McElherron's business to take ships to sea when he gets the command from the bridge. And like other ship's engineers he cannot pick and choose too much about his job. There are only so many berths in a given port and you take the one you can get or you go jobless, and it is to be assumed that Mr. McElherron, like other men with names like that, doesn't like the idea of going jobless.
Furthermore, ship's engineers are used to the idea that men who take ships to sea must run risks. They work always with the cunning and murderous sea separated from them only by a paper thin wall of iron.
So, when a Greek steamer bound for Glasgow offered Mr. McElherron a job as chief engineer, he went, not minding a small added hazard of some lurking Nazi submarines.
But there was a law--the Neutrality Law, passed by some fat gentlemen with well-paid jobs in Congress, who never took a ship to sea and whose idea of danger concerns votes. And there was a busybody somewhere in the machinery of the law. And so Mr. McElherron was in court.
There was no doubt of his guilt. But the judge thought that it was silly to punish a man for being honest and brave and useful--in something the nation was still trying to be hypocritical about--complimented him on his qualities, solemnly sentenced him as the law required, and suspended sentence.
Slap For U.S.
But Adolf Clearly Expects Us To Take It Quietly
Seizure of American oil properties in Rumania by Antonescu may mean that Adolf Hitler's hope of appeasing the United States, at least until he can destroy Britain, is waning.
However, to assume as much might be to fly very wide of the mark. He needed the oil bases. And hasty assurances that these properties are to be paid for over a period of 25 years looks like appeasement was still in vogue.
Hitler is well aware of the strong suspicion of oil companies in this country and the old slogans about refusing to die for them. And he knows also that precedent has already been set in the case of Mexico for accepting expropriation more or less quietly. And his action may actually be designed--in addition to assuring him of the last ounce of oil--to furnish his supporters among us with new ammunition for hollering that the war in Europe is sure enough just another war of imperialism.
In A Box
Benito Has Undone Himself Whichever Way Cat Jumps
The latest portraits of Caesar show him looking like an old, tired, and thoroughly bewildered convict once more on his way back to sitting on the inside looking on the outside. And with good reason.
It is certain that his greatness is highly unhappy these days and full of regrets for the decision he made last June. For whatever transpires now, he has sold himself and his people into a fix from which there may be no escape.
When he plunged into the war after the fall of France, he undoubtedly expected England to surrender at once, and himself to be treated with a great deal of consideration by Adolf surnamed the Hog at the dividing of the loot. He would, indeed, in the last analysis, be something of a satellite to the Hitler sun. But he had a large and well-trained army, a large if somewhat old-fashioned air force, a more powerful navy than Hitler, and so for some time to come at least could count on being treated with respect that goes to a junior partner. Hadn't Hitler once even backed down before him, over Austria?
So, as we say, he undoubtedly thought last June. But Britain didn't fall. At this moment the Italian armies are still in full retreat and the Greeks and British are on the coast. Caesar stands a thumping good chance of being thrown out of Albania kit and caboodle, and losing command of the Adriatic, thus leaving the whole length of his country open to easy assault from the sea and the air.
In Egypt his great drive to take Suez has turned into a dud, and his armies there are in imminent danger of being left stranded and having to surrender. And on the sea, in the air, and on land Great Britain is energetically concentrating on the job of taking him out of the war altogether this Winter--may do it.
But if she doesn't, if in the end the Axis should still win, if in the end the Italian armies and Albania are saved and the Greeks trounced, what then? It will be because Adolf Hitler's legions have rescued him. He will stand as one stripped naked of all pretense of military and naval prowess, as a partner who couldn't make good on his boasts and as one to be held in such contempt as only the most arrogant people on earth can visit on the unsoldierly. And Adolf Hitler, grimly remembering his own remarks that the Italians are a mongrel and cowardly breed, will no more deign to treat him with respect than any of the poor Poles now serving as slaves in Nazi-land.
If he is given anything at all it will be as a fawning cur is thrown offal under the table. And he will take and obey orders as dutifully as Pierre Laval himself.
It would serve him right, and in the little part of the world still temporarily left to civilization would be accounted the only happy thing about a Hitler victory. But one can still feel sorry for the Italian people generally. The thing upon which they are engaged is no fulfillment of an old folk dream with them, as it is with the Germans. Their very failure to fight well is evidence that their heart is not in it and that their conscience is uneasy. Unlike the Germans, they have not been turned into a mass of brutes by Fascism, and they dislike the Germans ardently.
If they were wise they would turn on the Caesar who has betrayed them, destroy him and his game, station their armies in the Alps to keep Hitler out, and take the easy terms they can still get--bet on England to win as their one hope. But they seem too bewildered to make that probable. It is a pity.
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