The Charlotte News

Thursday, December 1, 1938


Site Ed. Note: First, as to "Technicality", boy, we are a-steamin' at that. Aren't you? We mean, now, lookie here, if you're gonna permit some little black boys a new trial for murder, after they was convicted, far and squar, and given a picnic down yonder in Raleigh in Central Prison, and not gas 'em the way the law seen fit to do, well's they's just wastin' our moneys as taxpayers, aren't they? And all because of dis heya. "Dis"!

Dis. Dis and dis. Dat and dat. Who cares?

Dis heya is de same as dat der, in our buks.

Disinterested we are in all dis. And what matter would it make whether we was interested or not?

For if we was a disinterested witness, then it would mean that we had no interest in what he was a-sayin'. In other words, he was a-lyin'. Wouldn't it? And if we was interested, then it meant he was tellin' 'em the truth. Udderwise we woulda been bored and disinterested. That's whar we comes out. Like as not, since they elect them judges on the Nawth Calina Suepreme Coat, we's gonna run ourselves next time and unseat some of those bad men. They's stupit, if'n you ask us.

Just like they done in California back yonder in 19 and 86, when they got rid of that Rosey Bird and her fellow travelers, Mr. Grodin and all the rest of 'em, except Mr. Reynoso, who they barely missed, dang it. Now thems that done that, had the gumption to do that, the smawts to do that there, why they was smawt. They was Nazis, too. We kinda like a good ol' Nazi, though. Don't you? Why, it was funny. Ye see, what they done is they got the whole state a-thinkin' that that thar Rosey Bird and her compadres was a-holdin' up death penalties unduly, by pluckin' a few chickens, from the nest and showin' 'em how sick they was. Then they said the whole lot was diseased so that the beef growers would get their due. Anyhow, when they elected their replacements, like as not it came to be that the death penalty was only what you might call a stalking horse, behind which the businessmen hid. For that new Court, while being just as slothful in ruling on death penalty cases as the old they threw out, turned out very pro-business and anti-consumer, unlike the old one.

Well, it just goes to show how smawt the peoples is when you just leaves them alone to be told on the tv by advertising, paid for by big businessmen, what to think and do.

Ha, ha, ha.

But, we confess, it all troubles us a bit. We got us some mighty fine suits once upon a time at Grodin's clothiers there in San Francisco. We also once shook the hand of Mr. Broussard as he gave us an oath of some sort under which we swore to uphold the Constitution and its laws. Then, Mr. Broussard he got appointed to that Suepreme Court, too. And he was a liberal, too. And, though we never had the opportunity to meet Rosey Bird, we did find her opinions to be most sensible, the ones we read anyway. Did meet once a couple of her compadres though and they were nice gentlemen. One of them, Mr. Mosk, even gave a similar oath in our presence to a friend of ours once upon a time, someone with whom we had explored the Goldrush and from which we learnt quite a lot, 'specially re the intuitive qualities of thinkin'.

So, we don't know about all that.

Now, that we have done a little cogitatin' on it, well, maybe the difference between dis here and dat der, well, we'd have to say is a difference. For being disinterested and uninterested are different, the dis meaning dis here, that one is without bias. So them judges back in 19 and 38 in Nawth Car'lina appeared to know whereof they spoke when they decided that a dat for a dis will not suffice for justice, else it be just-us, or disjustice, as you please.

Now, with all dat said, a picture, we suppose, is composed of a lot of little dots, at least in newsprint, so is de print. We just wanted to say dat.

But, sometimes, ye see, when you are a readin' and a lookin' at all dat der print, well it all runs togedder like, such that you can't tell a dis from a dat. You look at de ads. and see dem as dis when in fact they be dat. See?

Whilst sometimes even the artickles are dat, when they be stalkin' ye as dis heya.

But we can pretty well tell ye, that whatever ye gonna read heya, is just because o' dis, not dat. We not tryin' to sell ye nothin', just tryin' to help sort out the truth from the falseHood, if'n ye see all the picture, that is, not just them partickles in it.

But sometimes, blowin' 'em up a bit, after years and years of seepin' into ye unawares the other way of viewin' 'em has you all upset for reasons you know not why but danged if'n they aren't real, but ye can't say why, but you a knowin' there's somethin', well, as crooked as a dog's hind leg about it all. Then on blowin' 'em up, the photos and print that is, you can begin to see the truth, for they used that idea, that knowledge of photography and dots and prints on ye to keep ye all stonewalled, ye see, some of 'em anyway, at times.

You remember all that flap about the little creatures they used to draw on ice cubes in the likker ads, long about 19 and 67? That was weird. Said they was a tryin' to appeal to all the drunks with that. We used to look at those ads, and we was quite sober, too, to spot the little ghostly, ghouly figures, and sure enough they was there. Good exercise, 'cause then they have a harder time foolin' ye. Your mind then knows when you're bein' fooled sometimes then, even if your eyes and ears a'first don't get it. Don't that beat all how that mind works fer ye sometimes, protectin' from yeself.

But what they never figered on, we reckin, when they was doin' all that stuff back 'ere, we figure, was this heya medium, and maybe the fact that the lady and some of the others whom they sought to shock into silence were themselves photographers, a few writers, journalists, and poets, even a few singers and comedians, too. And they never therefore realized how stupid were their Nazi ways and means and symbols, that they'd be shown up sooner or later for what they were. So it just goes to show once again, as we've said before, don't go mistakin' paradise for that home across the road.

As to more on the editorial below about slums, you may read more here.

As to "Definition in Politics", we also agree. Thus, best beware too much talk about "sunset provisions" in those Duke laws, such as the Patriot Act. Elsewise, ye gonna lose your freedomses, Pilgrim, sooner or later, as you might note from a little reading here.

As to that bit about Chicago and the coal and the railroads and the hoses and bats, well it all starts us to thinking about some other things, as it may you, too. A certain Bull comes to mind. So does a certain strange bit of antiwar organizing in 1968, strange because they demonstrated only against the Democrats, not against the Republicans. Maybe they thought the Democrats were their only hope and figured they wouldn't be rousted like that. Maybe they didn't like the candidate by then, but Lord only knows what they thought they were going to get as an alternative. Maybe, though, some of them, the rowdier ones, perhaps, really did all along want that other fellow to win; maybe they were plumbers and plants, of a sort, young uns who really did think the 1960 election was phonied up there in Chicago, as some contended, and that but for it, the other fellow would have won. Even though, a close examination of the electoral and popular votes for that year, in California, in Texas, demonstrate the contra, and even though, as we have said before, contrary to Mr. Rogers's advice, the other fellow wisely decided not to contest the election for he knew any questionable counts in Texas or Illinois would be offset by equally questionable counts in Southern California.

Anyway, it all comes around again and again, 'twould seem, as people sometimes who aren't reading properly, or who forget their lessons, do it all over again.

Best to learn your lessons well before you go speaking out of turn on the tv and opening your big fat mouth about things about which you've barely, if at all, scratched the surface. Otherwise, we might send you to the moon. We'll say it again: Alexander Hamilton was never President. But, like all the Silver Shirts, you've your right to speak, too, Lady, even as to your blatant ignorance born of the Reavooluution.

Speaking of all that, once upon a time, a member of our staff, though a menial who just empties the ashtrays and wastepaper baskets most of the time and gets us snacks, took this photograph below. We kind of like it. It was a warm spring day over by the Duke woods, he tells us, at a little place where Johnston surrendered to Sherman, April 26, 1865, after 15 days of stress, interspersed by the assassination of the President by a crazy actor, trying to read Poe (looked a little like him, too) and Shakespeare and what-not while drinking, probably fancying himself the hero of the play or story, which is as dangerous as driving while drinking. Liable as not to kill someone, including yourself. They're pretty complex plays and stories, those. Best approach them with sobriety of understanding. Leave off the pills, too.

Anyway, they got all this complex figuring going on there back in 1865 between old Jeff Davis and General Johnston. First they was a gonna surrender to 'em with liberal terms, allowing Nawth Ca'lina back into the Union with all rights and responsibilities restored. Then that assassination happened and Sherman got kinda riled at 'em for some reason, for not acceptin' reality, we suppose, that is, that old Granny Lee had gone and surrendered already up theya at Appomattox Courthouse on the 12th. Then the theater on the 14th.

Well, anyway, they got to confabbin' some more on it and Johnston told Davis that they was filibusterin' on 'em as to the terms proper, see. Then comes this here stuff about only military surrender fully, acceptable, like at Appomattox. Davis meanwhile was in Greensboro a skeedaddlin', thinkin' about reformin' the confederacy out theya in Texas, or if not theya, even down Mexico way. And indeed some of them boys, led by Matthew Fontaine Maury, a-went on down to Mexico, married some Mexican gals and to this day, they say, are theya--so said Mr. Josephus Daniels in his memoirs anyway.

Anyway, they finally worked it all out when Johnston decided on reality versus fantasy for some reason and disobeyed his president's orders to keep a-poundin' his staff against 'em regardless. ('Cause, quite frankly, we have a mind to think that ol' Jeff, well, that he was a little teched in the head, if you know what we mean. 'Cause how in Hades was you gonna fight 'em when many of the village folks theya in Nawth Carolina thought ol' Jeff made about as much sense as a danged mule, and with ol' Granny havin' already understood the Supremacy Clause just up nawth a-ways in Appomattox, as we have said.)

So old Gen'ral Johnston, he took himself to horse and went on over to Bennitt Place over yonda again and told ol' Sherman that, well, he reckoned it was ova afta all and that his president had finally gone bats as a bedsbug and he reckoned he'd surrender to him on their terms, and they did. And the war ended.

At least, for most. But some, ye see, they never thought it did. They continued a hidin' and dodgin' and some of 'em took to wearin' bedsheets and pilowcases like a bunch of ol' women they was. (No aspersions meant cast upon nice older ladies, mind you.) We fear to this day in fact that they have never heard of those doin's down theya and up theya and still think, some of 'em, that the woa is on. They certainly did in 1963 and even in 1968 and even lata we hear tell. Well, what do you do but try to tell 'em? The woa ended 140 years ago, Pilgrim. Neva shoulda been in the first place. So, try to undastand that and learn from it, if you don't already understand that. It's truly a useless plot.

Anyway, here's a couple of pictures, for your edification, one, as we said, from April, 1965, a centennial, and another from April, 1964. (Incidentally, the little boy in the second one is of unknown identity, the picture probably taken by some person trying to make some fancy statement, we figure, but we don't know. A kind reader gave it to us, passed it to us in an alleyway in Charlotte, in fact, not far from where ol' Jeff Davis had his last cabinet meeting ovre there not far from the Frederick where Cash cogitated on some of these pieces whilst finishin' writin' his book which we've mentioned a time or two before. He was wearing a cloak and hat at the time, this fellow in the alley, and we don't know who he was. But, as to the first one, somebody who looked a little like the boy in the second one told us later, that it was taken by the little boy himself, the same one in the picture there, the second one. Don't that beat all for coincidences? We think he wasn't a half bad photographer, incidentally, for a little guy. But, he tells us, that it became a little strange and even confusing at times, photographing all these places and people, though interesting then, gave him the heebie jeebies after awhile. And so he grew up instead to be a lawyer. That's why now he busies himself around here emptyin' the ashtrays, the wastepaper baskets, gettin' us snacks and what-not. Can't figure all that out. We could have used a good photographer here in the Tower, to make us up some exhibits for the fair. But more on that later.)

Anyhow, here are the photos:

Incidentally, when we got this picture from the reader, we asked that reader to tell us what the boy had in the bag underneath his arm. We wanted to know, as inquiring minds always do. We pressed our reader fiercely to tell us, as he appeared radical, maybe even red.

"What'd did he have, you Shadow?"

"Hold your horses there, cap'n, and I'll get back to you on that," came the retort.

"You'd better, and do it fast." The hoary image in the alley then went over to his two-way phone and made a quick call. Looked stern, surprised, even somber, yet not disappointed. We waited in restless anticipation of some major newsbreak to send over the wires.

Came back to us.

"Alright, here's the scoop. They say that they did a thorough investigation of the matter a long time ago. They asked him themselves what was in that bag. He said, 'Why do you want to know, sir?' 'Because,' they replied. 'Well, I don't know if I should tell you,' said the boy sheepishly. 'Because here, right here in my bag, here, is a parchment reproduction of the Constitution. Just got it over there at that Smithsonian Institution. Saw the Foucault Pendulum, swinging low, marking time with gravity, and measuring the earth and its rotation, and John Glenn's 'Friendship 7'--remember when President Kennedy dropped that medal accidentally and ad-libbed, 'This comes from the ground up'?--maybe that was Mr. Shepard, after 'Freedom 7', forget--anyway, it was funny. Well, it says right here in this Constitution, let's see, Bill of Rights, Fourth one. Yep, you can't do that, sir. Can't search me unless you have a warrant issued on probable cause or unless you have reasonable and probable cause somehow otherwise legally obtained. So, I must inquire again, sir. Why?' 'Because, sonny boy,' they said, 'we want to know. We said that already. So, you little wise-cracker, you had better tell us, now, or else.' The little boy resumed. 'Well, sir, it says right over there across the street that they shot a great man once, right behind his left ear for just those kinds of silly inquiries, because he wouldn't let them treat with other people like you're trying to treat with me. Don't you know that? That old Booth walked in there, an actor who couldn't tell the difference between stage drama and hurting real people, not just characters in a play. Just went in there, myself. Gave me the heebie-jeebies, it did. We just came out of that house there in back of you, where he died. Saw the blood-stained pillow all encased in plastic, where he bled to death overnight. Had been to see a play, Our American Cousin. Booth waited for the line, 'You old sockdologizing mantrap.' Then he shot. Feel like I saw it happen. He told me something, too, while I was over there in that room where he died. He said he's okay, keeps a watch on the country all the time, but we should never allow others to shorten the lives of other people. So, I guess I can't let you know what's in this bag, unless you have a warrant, that is. But, look,' said the boy politely, 'I have a stone bust of him I got, right in the bag here. Him, and President Washington. Got a bronze one of President Kennedy, too. They didn't have a stone one of him, yet. Already had one at home of President Jefferson, so no need to have two. Let's see, I have here also a bronze of that Iwo Jima Memorial over there in Arlington. See? Also, before I forget, here's my Declaration of Independence copy, also reprinted on some of that perfumed parchment they produce. Got it at the Archives. You want to read it?' No reply came, they told me. 'Well, nice talking to you, sir,' said the boy. 'Guess I have to go now. Someone's waiting for me. It's spring, and there are barricades to get around. We're going over to the White House for the tour. Never been. Looking forward to it.'"

"So, there you have it, Mr. Editor; we never did find out what was in that bag, but undoubtedly and obviously it was of no consequence to the Republic. Yet, maybe it had everything to do with the Republic. Hard to say. It was clear to the investigators, however, that he was not out to do any harm, anyway, though I must admit, he looks a little radical."

Well, we had to accept this Shadow's explanation and get on back over to the Tower to get the next edition of the paper out, though satisfied with this very unsatisfactory explanation we weren't. We'll find out eventually what was in that bag, if it takes us the rest of our lives. We also wish to know what he was doing carrying that long staff in his left hand like that. At least, that's how it appears to us. Guess we'll just have to keep digging until we find out.

And while we're about it, here's another picture of a very suspicious looking gentleman, we think, probably trying to make some clever statement. We don't know what it all means, though. Maybe you can figure it out. This picture came from another reader, said it was taken in late 1940. We don't know their names. That's for higher learnings. Looks like the man injured his arm somehow and has it in a sling, for some reason. That's our view of it, anyway. We're still investigating.

"Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shilo'ah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remali'ah's son; now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks: and he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Imman'u-el.

"Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us.

"For the LORD spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid."

--Isaiah 8:6-12

And we might add, neither be dismayed...

Definition in Politics

Whether the ICC is justified in extending "indefinitely the temporary increases in freight rates on bituminous coal" granted railroads in November, 1937, we don't know. We remember that the President's railroad fact-finding body reported a short time ago that what railroads need is not increased rates but reorganizing and the wringing out of the "water" which old abuses has got into the capital structure of nearly all of them. But that is only what we suspect. What we know is that the consumer, who always gets it in the neck, is going to continue to get it in the neck.

But not even that is what really interests us here. What really interests us is that word, temporary. Many, many times have we met it before. The Federal gasoline tax which was clapped on the consumer in 1931 was temporary, we recall. But it is still with us. The whole of Federal relief, we remember, was temporary in 1933, but after five years is yet with us, and promising to be with us until the last cow is locked home in the barn. The North Carolina sales tax was temporary, we remember, to begin with, and right on down until this year. But now Governor Hoey himself has confided that it is to be with us always.

When governments use that word, temporary, it means from now on.

Dangerous Remedy

In Chicago about a hundred people were holding a meeting of the American Fascist outfit which calls itself the Silver Shirts and has the home base for its program of hate and falsehood at Asheville. Then a swarm of angry men, armed with rubber hoses and baseball bats, smashed the door off its hinges, burst in and dispersed the Shirts. The people who did it explained that they did it because the outfit is avowedly pro-Nazi and avowedly out to organize an anti-Jewish program in this country.

But that is no valid excuse. It is easy to understand the anger of decent men when confronted with proposals that America should imitate the crimes of the Nazis. But--we have said it before: we say it again--you cannot defend Americanism by setting out to destroy Americanism. And whoever sets out to deprive anybody at all, including a Nazi, of the right to have his say and preach his doctrine peaceably, is striking straight at free speech, which is the bedrock of the true American tradition. There is, alas, something else among us that for the last twenty years has been trying to palm itself off as Americanism--the doctrine that nobody should have his say save only those who agree with us. But in its essence, it is exactly of a piece with Nazism itself.

The way to save Americanism as against Nazism is not to attempt to throttle the latter's deluded exponents, but to meet its hate and falsehood with the preaching and practicing of Americanism.

Those Whispers Again

There it is again--that half-uttered, unfinished insinuation that somebody on the City Council or employed by and associated with it is in complicity with outsiders either to discredit the administration politically or to put something over on it. Councilman Baxter made it this time when he declared that an investigation of rumors against City Manager Marshall and Chiefs Pittman and Littlejohn might involve "those sitting around."

Apparently somebody knows something the public doesn't know--else suspects it pretty strongly. This isn't the first time dark hints have been let fall about things going on secretly. A whiff of it came out in the Keith Beatty trial when H. L. Taylor, attorney for the defense, put Chief Littlejohn on the stand and kept him there a whole morning while the two exchanged mysterious criminations having nothing apparent to do with the trial in hand. At one point Mr. Taylor pointedly asked the police officer if he hadn't said that he had been "working on" the City Council and the City Attorney in connection with the return of 10-cent taxis to the streets, and later something was said about affidavits about something.

You see, it's all "something" about "somebody." What it is about whom--that is the mystery.

Shortsighted Defense of Slums

The strenuous objection of real estate men to public housing is understandable, their argument against it accepted as valid in this sanctum. Government competition is a hateful phrase, and we thoroughly disapprove the practice. There are, furthermore, certain admitted and practical features of the Federal housing program. You can't build for permanence or semi-permanence, for spaciousness and for appearance--and come anywhere near amortizing the job out of such rents as our slum dwellers can afford to pay.

Nevertheless, any candid realtor is bound to admit that much of the city's housing is hardly habitable. He will have to concede that crowded, unlighted, insanitary living conditions are the source of much crime and disease, and that the consequent occurring and recurring expense to the City Government is a charge assessed annually against all property-owners. The tax revenue which the City derives from the slums, we assert without being able to prove it, is far from sufficient to reimburse the City for the cost of services made necessary, in substantial part, because of the existence of the slums.

On a dollars and cents basis, it would pay us to do away with the slums as fast as possible, and to no occupation would it open up greater opportunities for doing business than owners of real estate and dealers in real estate. Just as the automobile created a market for suburban property, slum clearance would stimulate the demand for intermediate property--at the expense, in all probability, of slum property; for the city cannot get rid of its slums and keep them too.

And surely the realtors who say that they are in favor of making a start at slum clearance, but not this proposed start which would be almost wholly at the expense of the Federal Government, have in all honesty to admit that the likelihood of any other start is remote. Experience has shown it to be. Indeed, that would be the chief value of a housing project, that a start would be made. By itself it would replace no great slum areas or transfer no immense number of slum citizens. But it would be a start.


Somebody left out a three-letter prefix, so under the ruling of the North Carolina Supreme Court yesterday, three Negroes convicted of murder in Gaston County last March and now on death row at State's Prison, are to have a new trial.

As the transcript of the testimony reached the Court, Judge Burgwyn was made to charge the jury to the effect that if it believed that a defendant testifying in his own behalf was telling the truth, his testimony should "be given the same weight as that of any interested witness." Actually, he should have said, "any disinterested witness." Maybe it was the Judge's own error. Quite possibly, as the Court itself suggested, it was only the error of the stenographer.

And you, little reader, just as we were when we were first saw it, are steaming up now to voice your contempt for such technicalities? The law is an ass, you think, and all that sort of thing? You do not believe for a moment that any imaginable jury in North Carolina ever paid the slightest attention to whether the word was interested or disinterested, and it makes you pretty darn tired to think of all the money that will have to be spent to try these blacks over again?

Well, we don't ourselves think the word played the slightest part in the verdict. But on second thought, we shall voice no contempt. What we believe does not really matter. The lives of these men are at stake and they are entitled under the ancient and fair rule of the English law, to the benefit of every doubt. If the prefix made no difference here, it might someday conceivably do so. And as against the certain doing of injustice and the certain guaranteeing of justice to all of us in the future, any trouble and any cost is justified.


Framed Edition
[Return to Links-Page by Subject] [Return to Links-Page by Date] [Return to News--Framed Edition]
Links-Date -- Links-Subj.