The Charlotte News
Thursday, January 12, 1939
Site Ed. Note: "Madam and the Shoes" points up the South's sensitivity on this issue. So let it be known that even in the 1930's, Southerners wore shoes. Indeed, we have encountered folks in other parts of the country who appear at least to believe that even today the more typified fashion in footwear in the region subsists largely most of the year in the range between au naturel and sandals. Southerners even wear dress leather, at least when not working in the pasture.
But at least it wasn't laid to Ms. Perkins that she implied the South had no red shoes.
The Smithfield Sunday movie house vote reminds us of the mentality, to lesser extremes, perhaps, which still persists among us. Don't like the books professing Darwinian notions, vote out the school board and vote in the monkey-folk who profess to believe only in human purity and perfection to gymmy around with the curriculum. For if Man is created in God's image, then it must be the case that God could never have made a monkey of them at the outset--apparently being patient enough in matters to have waited until the evolutionary process was nearly complete. And after all, it is only a theory, they say, all that Australopithecus stuff and such. (If you forget that long word, then just remember Lucy.) As everyone knows, the pinky is merely an appendage representing God's sense of humor, meant only for hitting certain esoteric keys on some wind and brass, (and cleaning teeth after a meal), and never had anyswing to do with adaptive arboreal bliss.
We include, to show that Billy Arthur was concerned about other things than merely bottles of something on the shelf at the Sheriff's office and holes in macaroni, the following piece. We can't quite remember what meritorious errand it was in our day upon which our fellows ducked out of class, for we never ourselves engaged in such malingering pursuits, at least in elementary school. Perhaps it was taking money for ice cream in the morning. In junior high we do recall it was the need to get out a little earlier than usual on occasion to ready one's self for cross-county bus rides to the opposing school's turf in track meets and other likewise educationally increscent pursuits; same in high school. Some also needed to warm up the buses. But otherwise, we recall only that all were dedicated to the rigors of scholarship and disciplined ingestion of estimable learning, unless, that is, they were among that small segment to whom the enchantment of fatalistic consequence exhorted to Roman re-enactment by wielding at one another often in the afternoons bicycle chains, in which case such preternatural pursuit took natural precedence over less weighty alternate forms of scholarship. As we never saw or participated in such a thing, however, we deem the whole matter probably apocryphal and therefore of no concern, just as with evolution.
As to Southern country cuisine, and habits of consumption thereof, the Arthurian legend of gastronomic legerdemain, enunciated below, seems fairly still to be in the majority--most rotundantly so, in fact.
Wherein A City Slicker Spends A Country Day
Billy Arthur, In New Bern Tribune
Last Sunday I was treated to one of those dinners for which my aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Bost, up in Cabarrus County are famous, particularly when any of those eating Arthurs are around.
We sat down to dinner on which they had been working for a week, and we almost cleaned up everything there was on the table--rabbit, chicken, backbones and spare ribs, pork ham, corn, rice, potatoes, boiled eggs, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, sour pickles, pickled peaches, cranberries, nut and plain cake, jello, and damson pie and whipped cream.
And then they asked if we wanted ice cream.
Their home, where I spent many a summer on the farm, hasn't changed much in the years since I was last up there.
The woods had been cleared behind the house on the hill above the spring box, where the cream and butter was when I was a frequent visitor there. The spring box has given away to a refrigerator, and a bath room now supplants the place where we used to pour water in a pan, wash our hands and toss it out into the yard around the cannas.
The same old mud scrape was there, but it had been worn down by frequent use.
The dry kiln was in the same place, but the little white house at the end of the path had been moved over about 50 yards.
During the dinner, someone came in from the porch advising that the cats had just gone into two crocks of cream and everybody thought that was very bad.
When I suggested they need not worry, just wring out the cats, it developed they were more interested in the condition of the cream than the cats.
Down in the barn lot stood the same corn crib under which I once had my apple store.
It was a unique business. I broke even. I never had any customers, but I didn't lose any money because the apples cost me nothing, just a little time to pick them up.
The chickens ran me out of business several times pecking holes in the apples and making them unfit for a customer if one ever came.
Going over there we drove past the place where my mother went to school, and she and her sister and brother reminisced how everyone in their days watched the school water bucket.
Going about 100 yards to a nearby farm well for water was a favorite pastime of boys and girls to get out of school work.
In my day it was dusting erasers that got us out of class work, and in my little cousins' present school life, it is delivering notes of the teacher to the office.
A Man's Enemies
Dr. Frankfurter can begin to pack up his books and prepare to move to Washington. For all the evidence against his appointment that the Senate Judiciary Committee can uncover against him comes from the crackpot brigade--i.e., the professional Red-hunters and Jew-baiters.
Tuesday appeared Mr. George E. Sullivan, who describes himself as a lawyer on "anti-subversive subjects" (but of whom "Who's Who in America" seems strangely to know nothing) to object that Prof. Frankfurter is a Jew and that he used to be a secret conspirator with old William Z. Foster! And Mr. Collins Redd, who admitted candidly that he is the whole works in that heroic order, The Constitutional Crusaders of America, to object that Prof. Frankfurter is a foreign Jew "just naturalized" (a manifest falsehood) and a Red.
Who should pop in yesterday but Mrs. Lizzie Dilling, celebrated author of that absorbing tome, "The Red Network," wherein practically the whole of "Who's Who" from Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dr. John R. Mott and Sinclair Lewis down, is made out to be in the pay of Moscow. All that is needed now is old Doc William Pelley of Asheville, captain-general of the Silver Shirts, who publishes Lord Hitler's picture with the caption, "Savior of the World." With the Doc on deck, the case for Prof. Frankfurter would be complete.
Madam And The Shoes
Madam Perkins sounded more like Governor Hoey's State advertising agency than anything else. Indeed, the Governor himself, whose forte it is to praise North Carolina, could hardly have done it better. Employment had gone up 26 per cent since 1933 but wages had gone up 67 per cent. And as for labor laws, they were, said Madam, in many respects model, and on their way to being model all along the line. Not a word to compare North Carolina wages with Yankee wages. And not a word about the lack of shoes.
And, ah, perhaps just there we put our finger on the secret of Madam's sudden turn to the Chamber of Commerce style. The lady, of course, never actually said that the South didn't wear shoes. She merely said what every honest Southerner knows to be the truth, that there were a great many people in the South who could do with a lot more shoes if they had the money to pay for them, and that therefore the South was potentially a great market for shoes. But the word has gone forth, so thoroughly that on the eve of Madam's arrival, some members of the Legislature were loudly refusing to serve on a welcoming committee on the ground that she had insulted Dixie. And so perhaps Madam, who before now has shown that she is sensitive to criticism, was only doing her best to live down the story.
If so, however, she might as well have saved herself the effort. That Madam said that the South doesn't wear shoes is now folklore like, "You may fire when ready, Ripley," or Admiral Dewey's heroic deeds with the battleship Maine.
The Hydra's Heads
The town of Smithfield has just had an election on the question of Sunday movies which ended with 372 voting against the proposal and 298 for it. And the City Council is reported as thinking that ends the dispute "once and for all."
But, ah, now, we suspect that the Council is just a mite too hopeful. What it is assuming is that a majority vote will settle any question. That is a gross misunderstanding of the democratic idea--which begins by granting that minorities have certain inalienable rights, among the most important of which is the right to the freedom of conscience. And it was that right to which the vote at Smithfield denied. What the 372 were really saying to the 298 was: "All right, suppose that we can't reasonably argue that a quiet movie house on Sunday afternoon is a public nuisance. It offends our notions of Sunday observance. And if our notions aren't yours? No matter, we mean to force them on you anyhow. As against us, you have no freedom of conscience."
And so the City Council at Smithfield had better get ready to find that question right back on their doorstep again before long. For things settled in that fashion are never settled at all.
Let Luxuries Go First
Mr. Bulwinkle typifies those members of Congress of naturally conservative leanings who have gone along with the New Deal when they could and have balked only when they simply had to, yet without getting mad at the President, as Senator Bailey has, and without identifying themselves with the opposition or any anti bloc. Hence, when the news comes down from Washington, as it did yesterday, that Mr. Bulwinkle is "going to vote for any reductions proposed" in the President's relief budget, it is important. It shows, probably, that the rank and file Democrats are beginning to reach for the brakes.
But it isn't going to be easy. In fact, it's deliberately going to be made as hard as possible. Mr. Roosevelt is already talking "in terms not only of dollars but human beings"--of hundreds of thousands of poor devils about to be cut off from their sustenance by an unfeeling Congress. We have a pretty strong hunch, however, that if the Administration really wanted to reduce relief expenditures, it could be done without causing a great deal of suffering. The basic function of WPA, relief for the needy jobless, could be left almost unimpaired, and the money which Congress indicates must be saved could be saved merely by dispensing with relief frills such as the Federal Writers Project, the Federal Theater Project, a large part of the National Youth Administration and other non-vital dispensations so numerous that we can't pretend to keep up with them.
All this, we say, without real suffering or want, and yet with substantial savings.
France On The Spot
France is very definitely on the spot as Mr. Bumble begins his talks with Lord Mussolini after coming humbly to Rome to bring further "appeasement." There have been consistent rumors that Musso plans to attempt to drive a wedge between France and Britain by promising him a big hunk of the swag when Spain is finally bludgeoned into yielding, and agreeing to lay off the British life-line through the Mediterranean. And judging by Bumble's past performances and by the standards that are generally ascribed to him, it is not impossible that he might come to terms on such a basis, and give the French the choice between ceding Mussolini what he wants or standing up to him by themselves.
In any case, if the past means anything at all, he is almost certain to plump for the minimum demands of the Italians as so far revealed: (1) the virtual establishment of an independent Italian state within the French state of Tunisia, (2) a bigger share in the control of the Suez Canal, to be taken from the stock presently held by the French, and (3) a free port at Djibouti and a greater share in the Djibouti-Addis Ababa Railroad. And to that he may very well add recognition of Franco. What is more, M. Daladier will probably agree eagerly to it all, if he thinks he can get away with it.
In the light of Munich, it is impossible to believe that it will genuinely aid "appeasement," or do anything but further strengthen Mussolini and Hitler for the struggle that seems more and more certain. Moreover, the realistic French probably know as much. But so long as the English keep Bumble in power, they must string along with him or be left altogether alone.
Wrong Man For Job
Reports out of Washington relay it that Congressional leaders have advised President Roosevelt that it is impossible to block the $150,000 appropriation for the Dies Committee. If so, then they are strangely weak.
True enough, there does seem to be strong popular demand for investigation of Fascist and Communist activities in this country. And nobody can object to that. By all means, let's have an investigation, not by way of drumming up sentiment for legislation which will destroy the Bill of Rights, but an honest and decent one designed to acquaint the people with the true facts. Which is to say, one under other auspices than those of Dies & Co. Rep. Dies may be a well-meaning man but he is obviously too dogmatic, too credulous, and too anxious to vindicate preconceived ideas to be charged with this job.
As he has conducted his investigation it has simply been a shabby show. Hundreds of obvious crackpots have been allowed to parade the stage and smear decent citizens without an iota of proof. Dozens of organizations devoted to civil liberties, etc., and manned by distinguished people, have been given the same dose. Dies himself has gone so far as to demand publicly that Madam Perkins suspend the Bill of Rights, abandon her sworn duty and deport the labor leader Bridges out of hand. And in the Murphy case he certainly lent himself to politics.
Let's have an investigation but with a better man at the head of it.
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