The Charlotte News

Tuesday, December 27, 1938


Site Ed. Note: Oh, here we are on the third day of Christmas. Whoops, wait, our watch is buttery meltin', here. And we had thought it was the best of butter. But, anyway, it says, surely not, December 31 on our cuckoo clock. Well, we don't know. Maybe it's because of the hole in the fence of which the editorial speaks, the sidewinders, the shuttle and the rotary--(once you've driven one or two up around New England way, you understand why the accident rate is lower in Providence); yet, that was not what Cash had in mind, we apprehend.

We still await the results of the Rose Bowl. Perhaps the victor will be the one who apprehends the ball the most. (And though the Spartans this year are not in any bowl, we congratulate them nevertheless on a season well played and fair. Winning 'em all, or even most of 'em, is not always the test.)

Meanwhile, we were thinking of pleasant things for the New Year.

And so we decided to hang Chester. He's such a noisome oaf, after all, toadying about here with his Civil War injury and all. Always complainin' to us about things over at the saloon and this and that. Besides, he has no medical plan since Doc left town and joined a traveling show bound for California to make some sort of movin' picture. So, we did. We just hung him.

Didn't do any good though. Showed up the next day as always. Cats jump back, they say.

Anyway, here's something for you on which for you to cogitate, since the editorials be talkin' about them giant monsters playin' o'possum 'round Green'sborough--or something like that.

So here's a test for the third day of Christmas, even if today is the 31st and thus the seventh--we celebrate all twelve as 'tis more fun that way--though we forget what the third day bring. (Telefunken H-bombs?) The test is this: Count the number of people you see in each of the pictures below. Do you see anyone common to both? We'll supply you the answer tomorrow.

Okay, count:

We call these, necessarily in combination, incidentally:

Nixie Door Closing Swift and Mighty, Yea, To Be Oped And Loosed Yet Again, But For a Little Season

Also, a riddle and a hint: What part did H. Trueman play in that which resulted in the first one above? (Though post hoc, ergo propter hoc's applicability, as usual, is of dubious application. Yet, a priori assumption can be a dangerous thing, especially when one doesn't conceive that it is there, leading then on to the condemnation of the a posteriori, as exhibited in the second above.)

Back to Chicken and Peas

Like a hole in the fence which confines us all within the habits and the state of mind of regularity, were those two--were they really no more than two?--consecutive holidays. Half the people in the country woke up today half convinced it was really Monday morning, and the other half was made up of those who said all day yesterday, "Declare, it seems just like Sunday."

But now the Yuletide is ebbing, and it is time to start the shuttle again and fill the loaf of existence, which runs ceaselessly, with the warp of activity, which gives existence a pattern. Contact, then: contact with Tuesday, an ordinary old day in December. Let the posting machines in all the banks start up again, ringing in the bad tidings. Let the stock market resume its aimless, sidewinding pace. Let us catch up with the Duke football team, somewhere on the West Coast, and read the latest fancy press work on those lace panties. Let Joe Palooka and Knobby proceed with care in the furnishing of that splendiferous rest-runt. What are the Roosevelts doing now? Bring us up to date on Adolf, Musso and Bumble. Tune into the Rev. Father Coughlin, start up General Johnson, on with commerce, controversy and compromise! Christmas is over. It's just another Tuesday, and the Rotary Club meets as usual at 1 P.M.

Blessings Well Disguised

"That big monster on the hill is taking your jobs. By the end of 1939 it alone will have replaced between 15,000 and 16,000 workers. As for you, it is take a wage cut or no jobs after Dec. 26."

Thus dramatically were 2,000 or so workers of the McKeesport Tin Plate Co. addressed on the eve of Christmas by young Harold Ruttenberg, research director of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee. "That big monster on the hill" was the last word in steel rolling mills, the $60,000,000 Irvin Works of the Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corporation. The building of it, to be sure, put men, money and machinery to work, but not the men of McKeesport. And the steel the monster turns out more economically and more efficiently will put men to work, but not the men of McKeesport. They are employed in making steel, the material, not in making things with steel.

And argue as convincingly as you please about technological improvement and hew, in the long run, it means the greater enjoyment of more goods for everyone, the first outcome of it takes the form of displacing men and reducing the contents of pay envelopes neither of which, to those most directly affected, is a salutary development.

Its Own Antidote

Once in a while we begin to get steamed up about the foreign propaganda in this country. Then we take a look at the stuff that streams over our desk and feel better. Thus one piece that arises regularly calls itself "Far Eastern Affairs" and purports to be a disinterested examination of the Chinese situation. But a child of three could spot the fact that it is solely designed to persuade us that the Japanese have no other purpose in China than to save an ungrateful world from Communism.

Our favorite exhibit, however, is one called "Spain," got up in an expensive format to resemble a magazine and arriving every month. In its current issue, for instance, one, Mr. John E. Kelly, whose bona fides are not given, informs us that "The Italians are gone" (from Spain) and in an interview with an enigmatic Mr. Clifford, General Francisco Franco, probably the best single butcher Europe has seen since the Albigensian Crusade, is made to think "it monstrous that Geneva permits the [indiscernible word] of as many [indiscernible word]" (the heads of the Spanish Government) to appear there at all. And then--and then, Franco is made to go on and answer a question of the hypothetical Mr. Clifford as to why "many democracies have favored...the Reds" (the Fascist name for the Loyalist cause in Spain), by saying: "Only deception and malice can explain it. The worst stupidity..."

That is to say, this organ, in its effort to persuade us of Franco's goodness, tells us flatly that the reporters of the Associated Press are liars and fools, that we are dullpates to believe them, and that they are only the instruments of a corrupt American Government out to hoodwink and betray us. Propaganda as clumsy as that is no menace. It is only funny.

Unpleasant Necessity

Nobody but a professional jingo will feel very cheerful about the President's recommendations for military, naval, and air expenditures--which turn out to be just about what was expected. There's something deftly incompatible between the notion of a democratic society and that of large war establishments. And the proposed measures promised to add more billions to the national debt and so further to increase taxes. It may very well be that for a few years they will inject new life into heavy industry and reduce unemployment, thus making general business conditions better; but in the end it will only be temporary--unless. Unless, and here we come upon the greatest danger of all--unless we are tempted into the mad course that Germany is presently following, of attempting to solve unemployment and bring about economic prosperity by turning the whole people into a vast machine for the always expanding production of war materials.

Nevertheless, with all this before us, it is hard to see what other course than that recommended by the President is open to us. For with the gangster nations loose in the world, with the Nazis already harping on the Monroe Doctrine, nobody can be sure that we may not wake up very shortly to find air bases being established to the south of us, and ourselves confronted with ultimatum to give up our ancient policies or meet force.

It may be true, indeed, that if we build 10,000 planes in the next two or three years, they will already be outmoded by the time they are completed. But it is plain that a defense of 10,000 slightly outmoded planes is still a formidable one. Indeed, in view of the fact that any 10,000 planes a nation can have must be equally outmoded, it will be a nearly perfect one. And there is nothing whatever to keep us from going right on producing experimental planes in small quantities.

And as for the claim that what we need is not actual preparation, but thorough plans for preparation--that seems very dubious in view of the record. It is commonly forgotten; but we did not enter the war in 1917 without such preparation. Elaborate plans for the creation of the citizen army and the mobilization of industry had already been drawn under the Preparedness Act. And what is more, three years of war in Europe had already made us one of the greatest munitions manufacturers on earth (something we would be very far from being if war suddenly came to us now), and had more or less geared our whole industrial establishment to a war basis. But, despite all that, it was more than a year before we really got into fighting trim.

Such a delay might be tragic in these days.

Plain Ol' Possum

A man, we have always heard, once wrote a whole ecstatic book on the nuances of the semi-colon. But never mind that now. It is Mrs. Theo B. Davis's two paragraphs on the apostrophes which presently concern us.

There are, says Mrs. Davis, who with her husband gets out the diminutive but sprightly Zebulon, N.C., Record, and who in her own right has that certain indefinable but easily spotted something which is charm of writing style, two apostrophes she wishes might be lost from all linotype fonts. The first is that miscreant who is always intruding, little-brother like, in the possessive pronoun its, making its it's, which is not its at all but the contraction of it is. The second is an illiterate apostrophe which has acquired a sort of immortality in O'Henry. "One whole Winter," Mrs. Davis laments,

"... I gnashed my teeth over a literary society that called itself the "O'Henry" instead of the 0. Henry. And even The News & Observer linotypist had Exum Perry's albino opossum written up as an o'possum."

Ah, now: there's an apostrophe one can really sink his teeth in. In the style book of The Charlotte News Br'er Possum's vermiform appendage, the stilted apostrophe, is omitted without apology. He may be called an opossum, in case some reporter chooses to get fancy, or he may, in the travail of avoiding the repetition of words, be called a marsupial, though not oftener than twice in the same story. But 'possum (follow copy, proof desk) is an affectation we eschew as something like elevating the little finger from the lifted glass. And though he may be served with 'taters, he is plain old possum at The News.

Site Ed. Note: We therefore include, also, from the adjoining column, the piece to which Cash refers. Incidentally--save for the notion that theirs usually sounds a bit awkward and redundant, better used always with a particular object lest it be implied that the whole world belongs to them, meaning of course always therefore to imply ironically by petard hoisting by the inevitably resultant ego impeller to come that, of course, tomorrow belongs to us--we agree wholly with Mrs. Davis on this notion re the line o' typists; yet, occasionally, we slip up in our typing skills and let fly an its for an it's. If you catch one, try to spare us the lash. Only an erratic bit of slip in hand to eye coordination, probably left over from many's a time earlier in schoolday's. In fact, truth to tell, we caught one of ourselve's recently, but liked the result so well, we simply left its as it's, without--and without first reading this thing above or below. But that's the way it's sometimes around here in Dodge's. Get's 'pooky, especially when you're hummin' an American tune.

The Abused Apostrophe

(Mrs. Theo B. Davis, Zebulon Record)

There are two apostrophes I wish might be lost from all linotypes. They are, first: the one so often mis-used by placing it between the t and s in the pronoun its, to denote possession. And my old Harvey's English Grammar stated, that apostrophes should never be used with personal pronouns in the possessive case. Their form--mind, his, hers, theirs--is sufficient. And its is also a personal. The contraction may be properly used only when its means it is.

The other apostrophe I worry over is the one frequently placed between 0 and Henry and referring to the author, or to something named for him. One whole Winter I gnashed my teeth over a "Literary Society"--that called itself the "0'Henry" instead of the 0. Henry. And even The News and Observer linotypist had Exum Perry's albino opposom written up as an o'possom. Why do they have the idea that's right? If they leave off the 'possom's o, it is quite right to give him an apostrophe in its place; otherwise he doesn't have any use for one.


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