The Charlotte News

Saturday, December 24, 1938


Site Ed. Note: Well, this is Christmas...

And, as is our wont at this bristling, beastie brangled mutton time of year, we are alas given to begin to reflect on what has transpired in the previous twelve months. We won't spend much print on it as we have spent plenty already during the past nine months or so.

Our hearts and minds continue to go out to the victims of the earthquake in Pakistan, the victims of Katrina and the other less terrible, but yet not victimless, hurricanes of this past record-setting season for hurricanes, as well as for those who suffered loss in the typhoon a year ago. We hope for them some resemblance of a merry time this Christmas, for them especially, as they deserve some special form of merriment, though we recognize that it may be difficult even for a special day to put aside all of those recent memories and loss. We hope they have begun to rearrange their lives, though slow it appears to be going. But, they will, in time, as all survivors do. So we hope for you.

We also extend the hope for some semblance of a merry time to those men and women serving abroad, in Afghanistan and in Iraq and other places around the globe, but of course, especially to those in Iraq. They deserve a break. We hope by this time next year they will be stateside again, and all will be safe in the meantime. We hope. And that those elections last week will produce meaningful and positive, long-term results toward freedom.

Yet, with all of that hope, we cannot help but feel a little like the six-year old about whom the little story is related below in 1938, and so we will simply ask the question--though it is not really directed to Santa Claus, per se, for poor Santa's cap is quickly melting away and he has barely enough of that icy fuel left on which to operate his sleigh and get his reindeer, including Rudolph, out upon their way, as the runners won't float--on behalf of all of those for whom we extend our hope, to those whose efforts, with which we cope, (including ourselves, mind you), directed to the notion that such in the coming year will bring about another, newer day:

Didn't you read our letter, you dope?

Norfolk's Christmas Gift

So because an icy impoliteness presently characterizes German-American relations, the situation is grave, eh? Because the situation is grave, it becomes graver with the Navy's announcement that it would go ahead as planned with the formation of an Atlantic fleet? And Germany lies on the North Sea, which is in reality an arm of the Atlantic--is that at the bottom of this naval mobilization?

Maybe so, but we hardly think that if the Navy really intended to put on a bristling act for Germany's benefit, it would move only four of its seventeen battleships to the Atlantic side. After all, fleets can operate only in water, and the American continent is bounded by two oceans, not just one ocean. And Norfolk and Hampton Roads--who hasn't seen the fleet lying imposingly off Norfolk in Hampton Roads? Norfolk, by George, hasn't in a long time, and no matter how the formation of a small Atlantic fleet may be received in Germany, it will be the best news in a long time for Norfolk.

Heard in Passing

She was large and comfortable and motherly. And she was beaming with pride as she came to the book counter in the department store and hunted out a little book. And while the clerk wrapped up her purchase, she talked cheerfully and confidingly, her pride and pleasure obviously mounting. When she had gone the clerk turned to another:

"Do you remember that little boy who has been dreaming over that book for the last month? That was his mama. He's just twelve years old. She said he said, 'Mama, I've decided I've just got to have that book. Will you give it to me for Christmas?'"

"What was the book?" asked a bystander.

"The Clans and Tartans of Scotland!"

He may have been as much as six--a beautifully innocent tyke, with his hand tightly clasped in that of his nurse. And the store Santa Claus beamed upon him benignly as the elevator rose:

"And what, my little man, do you want for Christmas?"

The innocent eyed him indignantly:

"Didn't," he demanded witheringly, "didn't you read my letter, you dope?" [He actually said "you dope."]

Site Ed. Note: Speaking of which, we cannot resist, for anyone who missed it, to point you to an interesting letter to the editor which appeared a few days ago in The Wall Street Journal. And we read it.

Now, we confess to you that, despite its reputation for pithy editorials and smart articles, we rarely read the Journal. We just happened upon a copy, serendipitously, as we sat in a Chinese restaurant waiting for our stir-fried victuals over in Pulpit Hill a few days ago.

We had nothing much to do, so we found a copy of this newspaper someone had left behind for us to read. So we did.

And our eyes fell upon the print of this curious little letter to the editor, which appeared pithy and well-written, with an interesting analogy posed. And so, as we said, we read it.

We left the paper for others to read and so we won't attempt to quote, but it floated our boat by posing a response to some editorial which had recently appeared, apparently suggesting an analogy between martoonis and the Constitution, that the two could be fathomed as to their original intent.

The letter writer humorously took to task the editorialist by etching it that while the thing was true as to martoonis, not so for the Constitution. It said that olives were no proper garnishee for the martooni, either. (We would hope, though the letter writer made no comment on it, that the olive would be, regardless of taste, a proper garnishee for the Constitution, however.)

It also said that the modern concoction of chocolate and raspberry martoonis were anathema to the martooni purist. Never having had one of those, we couldn't comment. (Yet, we hope chocolate and raspberry are okay by the Founders, too, nevertheless.)

We forget what it said the proper garnishment was, according to the letter writer, so we leave that for you to look it up and find out, if your boat needs the float. Our memory fades,,

It concluded to the effect that if a salad is deemed desirable, then it would be ordered as such, not on top of the martooni, meant to be savored not as a garden delight, (though we garnish it with the last phrase ourselves). (Yet, we hope the letter writer would agree that salads, and by proper analogous inference, so, too, therefore, garden delights, are also cognizable by the Constitution.)

It didn't, however, mention anything about the maraschinis, but we assume that such is out of the query as to garnishing martoonis, anyway.

We don't usually drink martoonis, candidly, have scarcely ever had one, our experience limited to the product of an elderly gent, a friend of ours who passed away about four years back, who occasionally fixed us a martooni at the end of a hard day, as he often had one, and so from that limited experience we do know that the proper ingredients, in varying degrees, are vermouth, gin, and sometimes orange bitters--Oxford agrees, too--as we would have no reason to doubt, as our passed away elderly friend, who was good friends from young days with an also departed Senator named Cranston from California, had an almost PhD. From Columbia University, no less, in social anthropology, and so we would assume would have to have known plenty about the fine art of fine martooni mixing, garnishment or not, with which, we recall, he never provided us in his mixing days.

We still wonder though why we shouldn't have with it a maraschini. They are good.

Anyhow, after reading that letter slowly, for we were all tired out at the end of the day awaiting our Chinese victuals, and then reading it again, it got so good, even more slowly, we found ourselves in solid disagreement.

The Constitution, we have to posit, can be profoundly fathomed as to original intent, we opine, at least approximately. Though, we agree, we must say, that to know, without question, its intent, would sometimes present difficulty, if not altogether hazardous impracticablilty. Yet words are words, martoonis and all, and so, since we can read the English language, even if sometimes we might need to consult Oxford or Funky Wagnalls to do it properly, with a little careful discernment and distinction, and a little poetry, too, maybe, we can, yes we think we can, get it just in fine. Just like the little engine steaming up that hill.

So, reading the boys, Tom and James and the rest, together with us still, we propose, in spirit, we figure we can just about get there, most of the time, anyway.

Well, we read that letter a third time and then, and only then, noticed the name of the writer.

The writer was named Robert Bork.

So, to Mr. Bork, Merry Christmas. We don't agree with that concept, not being able to fathom original intent, but it provided a nice maraschini to the end of our pleasant day, as it always is, when we visit Pulpit Hill, especially around Christmas, which, candidly, we haven't done in many, many a year until this one. (In fact, last time we did that this late in the year, we were still in high school. God save us, we don't remember the year, but we figure it must have been 1870, or thereabouts.)

And then our victuals came.

And, we kid you not, the fortune read: "Things are turning for the bright side. Lucky numbers 15, 16, 17, 34, 35, 37."


Merry Christmas also to David Brinkley, wherever you may be, sir, in your little corner of Heaven. We always enjoyed listening to your reports--save at least for three particular nights.

Also, to H. B. ("Chick") Cash, we offer a similar salute, an old friend of ours who is also gone from our midst, but not quite.

And so, too, many, many others, including especially those back at Old Point Comfort, way back there, and to another we lost just this year, too young, too young, but yet therefore forever young, from days spent ramblin' around in Yosemite and Sonora Pass, after taking something, once upon a time, called a bar exam, in those salt-sea days. As to the latter, we understand, that at just the right time, if you go serendipitously to it, without planning it all, you may still find that old friend jaunting along, intrepid as always, with a ready smile, sometimes a hearty laugh, even at our wisecracks, up there in the farthest reaches of the Shenandoah Valley.

So, that's the way it is, Christmas Eve, 2005. Sine die.

High Cost of Elections

Senator Sheppard's Campaign Expenditures Committee has completed the preliminary draft of its report on the 1938 state elections, which runs to 6,000 pages and is said to contain evidence which throws such grave doubt on the returns in several states that an investigation may be necessary. And on the basis of the findings Senator Sheppard himself is preparing a new corrupt practices act to "prevent the use of money and influence in primaries and elections." Among other things that act will forbid:

1 --The solicitation or intimidation of WPA and other Government workers, under pain of "penalties with teeth in them."

2--"Pernicious political activities" of all employees on projects for which Federal funds are used.

All of which is excellent. But there is something that should not be lost sight of about the last elections, to wit: that not all the skullduggery and the dubious practices were confined to one side. Chandler's state machine in Kentucky is credited with quite as much of that sort of thing as the Federal machine that aided Barkley. And even when there was no evidence of monkey business, Senators George and Tydings, among others, reported spending as much as $30,000 on the campaign. It is the current practice, and these men cannot justly be singled out for castigation. But the expenditures of such sums plainly goes beyond reasonable necessities or the public interest, and ought to be sharply curbed.

Time Will Tell

Well, if Old Ironpants Hugh S. Johnson and David Lawrence think it's all right, maybe we are wrong. These two are given to suspecting the worst of the New Deal, but surprisingly enough they more or less clapped hands at the prospect of appointment of Harry Hopkins to Commerce, which came off yesterday. Their theory is that the contact with business men and the actual comprehension of their problems will be good for Harry and be good for Business too, in that it will supply what it has never had during this Administration--a representative in the councils who speaks the New Deal's language and who has ready access to the Presidential ear.

Nevertheless, it is with considerable misgivings that we stow our cynical expectations and hope for the best. Not, to be sure, that we ever went so far as to think that Harry Hopkins had horns or that he wasn't one of the most capable executives at the New Deal's command. But he is, by nature and by his whole training, a governmental executive. That is, he is used to doing business by the right of eminent domain, without compensation. Not only that; he has worked all his life for some government or other without ever having been elected to a single office, and has become, or shows signs of having become, impatient with tiresome democratic processes.

But if there is actually going to be some sort of accord between Business and the New Deal, it will come about more easily with Harry as Secretary of Commerce. At any rate, Business never got very far by virtue of the representation of Harry's predecessor.

Musso to the Rescue

One of the things which explain M. Daladier's success Thursday, in jacking up his margin of victory from the dangerous level of just seven votes to the comfortable one of 137, was certainly the threat to call a general election. French politicians are normal politicians. Their first aim in life is to hold on to their jobs, and so an election, which in the natural course of things means that some of them will lose their jobs, is the last thing they want.

But there was something else involved in the case, too. Italy chose just the moment when M. Daladier was apparently toppling toward defeat officially to announce the Laval-Mussolini agreement of 1935 with respect to Tunisia, and to make it plainly clear that she has in mind to make demands for more concessions in the African province. And it was just on the heels of that that M. Daladier's margin began to climb, the French politicians apparently concluding that it was necessary to put up a solid front at any cost. What makes this more remarkable is that it is the second time it has happened. The outbreak of the Tunisian agitation in the Italian Chamber of Deputies coincided exactly with M. Daladier's first appearance before the French Parliament. And it is quite likely that only that agitation and the swift flaring up of French national feeling saved him from falling then.

Maybe it is all pure coincidence. But in view of Munich, of Daladier's increasing alliance with the Fascist parties in France, and of the admitted eagerness of Germany and Italy to keep him in power, it is certainly not outside of possibility that he is working hand in glove with Hitler and Mussolini and that the whole business is stage business.

One-Man Labor Movement

Francis J. Gorman, who first marched out of the AFL and took the United Textile Workers with him into CIO, has now turned around and is making sounds like a man about to march again, at the double-quick. There is yet some doubt as to whether his destination is AFL or that he would be received back into good and regular standing if that should be the case. Also a question is how much of the rank and file he can carry with him.

But open to no uncertainty at all is the high undesirability of--

(1) A one-man textile union, which is what Gorman apparently considers UTW;

(2) A textile union for the South whose roots and voting strength are in New England, as was the case with the original UTW.

Sooner or later the Southern textile industry is going to be pretty thoroughly unionized, and we are reconciled to and not at all dismayed by that. Indeed, many a mill man is wishing that he had gone in for unions back there in the twenties, thus being insulated against both Mr. Gorman and the TWOC. But the only hope of overcoming the South's present antipathy for unions lies in a labor leadership of patience and restraint. In the South's experience with Francis Gorman since Marion in 1929, he has displayed the opposite of those qualities.

Site Ed. Note: December 25 and 26, 1938 are missing from the microfilm. So, see you in a couple of days, after the yuletide. We intend to do some biking and running, though chilly winds will blow upon our face for it, we know. 'Tis fun, nevertheless, this time of year. Exhilarating. Not the least enervating. Try it, in moderation. a bird of Orville and Wilbur...

By the way, speaking of those chilly winds, we saw the Spartans get whipped soundly by the Trojans the other night. Ah, well, Spartans, don't let it get you down. Mistakes happen, especially in December. Remember yesteryear. March is not that far away.


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