The Charlotte News

Friday, February 3, 1939


Site Ed. Note: Today's print seems to have a distinct lack of zest to it, mostly confined to local matters, including the clearing up of that fall story regarding the suspect ticking in the Sanatorium's mattresses and the mysteriously missing high-grade cotton consigned originally to stuff them. We are relieved it had no relationship, at least, to Coster/Musica and his earlier excelsior-for-hair scheme prior to the one about the missing drugs which did him in by his own hand--or as an intermediate weevilous commodity for trade for oil to and from somewhere. And, moreover, and not dissociatively, that there were no monkey wrenches in them on which the poor patients had to nod.

Perhaps in explanation of the lack-lustre, largely recapitulative pieces, it was around this time, sometime in early January actually, that Cash had slipped on some ice outside his apartment at the Frederick, fell down the steps, "smashing his face up pretty badly", as he told Alfred Knopf, after complaints had come from New York regarding continual delay in finishing the manuscript for The Mind of the South--which, incredibly, on November 23, 1938 he had asseverated he would have to them in finished form by February 1. To that end, but not anywhere nearly quite so, he provided fifty-one pages in mid-February, trimmed from the sixty he had stated were nearly complete in November, and promised then to be finished with the whole of it "soon", anticipating two weeks off from the newspaper the latter half of February. Of course, in fact, he would not finish the book until July 27, 1940.

We shall see, incidentally, whether the column becomes probatum of this anticipated respite, and, if so, what effect it finds--whether, alternatively, Cash's contributions were then staggered over time, another possibility explaining this day's relative dearth in most of it. We also note that this month has a record number of omissions from the microfilm, ten dates missing--which means we at least get nearly two weeks off, whether Cash did or not.

This period was a good one for stressing the book as little of grave and immediate daily consequence was taking place on the world stage--all being more glacially moving during this time of winter, the taking of Barcelona in Spain, thus paving the way for Fascism under Franco's Insurgents and, by it, at least severe debilitation of the British and French in the Mediterranean, potentially causing pretermission of their own empire interests and resources in its border states or those accessible through the Suez from it, a threatened second Munich with Mussolini over the possible coercion of France to give up Tunisia and its part of Morocco to Italy, and the redundancy of Hitler's continuing to gobble more and more rights in Czechoslovakia, the coldly accurate guessing over Hitler's next probable aggressive move being Poland to gain access to the Ukraine, his attempts toward that end to soften up the Polish regime under Beck, and, with all of these turns, the disappearance of all faint hopes that Munich was ever more than a worthless slip of paper between two established empires and two which had been and were orectically trying, in the space of four years, yet to become again.

The truth about the delays in delivery of a finished manuscript, however, was probably not so much that Cash's face was ailing him. The world was moving toward war and Cash knew it. It was no doubt disturbing and defeating to sit and watch the cuckoo ticking and wait for the appointed day as the weather would improve--whether Poland's turn was to be in spring or summer or early fall being about the only remaining issue.

Perhaps such anxiety explains his refusal to predict what the groundhog would see the previous day. He could have relied on safe ground at least there: following suit with fully 80% of the instances in the 123 years of record-keeping on it, the groundhog saw its shadow in 1939, just as we correctly predicted it would in 2006.

For most of the years, fortunately, the shadow, with the sun occluded to the back of it, has held no such seemingly ominous fore-contrivance, however, as it did in 1939.

Crime Rampant

Those "conditions" in the County whose correction is said to cry for a different method of appointing County Civil Service Commissioners and by inference a shake-up in the Rural Police, John C. McManus, once a Grand Jury foreman and sponsor of the change, simply will not disclose. We do Mr. McManus the justice of assuming that he has reasons that are good and sufficient to him, but the "conditions" will bear no assuming. They need to be stated explicitly.

About the only direct hint anybody has had of what they are was dropped by Mr. Garibaldi in a casual conversation reported in The News. Mr. Garibaldi said he "had an idea that Mac doesn't approve of people dancing until 2 or 3 o'clock every morning and getting drunk at some of these places in the County."

If that's what the "conditions" are--and it is positively all we have to go on--it follows that the remedy for them is not to change the method of appointing Civil Service Commissioners but to take out after the contrary streak in human nature which makes people want to stay up later than they should and drink more than is good for them.

Not That Poor*

You've heard of the one about the two housewives who were commiserating with each other over how hard up they were. No? Well, one of them went querulously through the catalogue of what she wanted and couldn't afford, and the other said it sure was the truth, that it was all she and her husband could do, by pinching here and denying there, to live within their income.

"You mean," asked the first incredulously, "that you all don't spend any more than you make? Heavens! We're not that poor!"

In Raleigh yesterday, the Appropriations Committee, hot for economy, hacked off $50,000 from the two-year allotment of $250,000 for State advertising. There is even a possibility that the appropriation will be eliminated entirely. Which would be dear economy indeed.

For North Carolina isn't that poor. Or perhaps it is--so poor that it cannot afford not to continue this expenditure which has paid for itself twice over and more. So poor in tangible wealth per inhabitant and so rich in natural charming commercial advantages that it cannot in any wisdom at all fail to exploit the one for the betterment of the other.

Cut the salaries of State employees! Knock down the Mullet Line to the highest bidder! Increase income taxes! But don't forego that investment in a greater, wealthier, advertised North Carolina!

Much Smoke, No Fire

The mystery of the Mecklenburg Sanatorium mattresses that were found to contain sticks and floor-sweepings and occasional odd objects such as monkey wrenches, has been solved. There really wasn't any mystery, although from the length of time and sleuthing the previous Grand Jury gave to the case, one might be excused for assuming that there were some mysterious angles to it. But there was no mystery in the mattresses, just as in them were no sticks, floor-sweepings and monkey wrenches. All this is attested to by the report of the successor Grand Jury.

The explanation is quite simple and can be made in a jiffy. Mrs. Neikirk had some Government cotton left over from a project. She signed over 38 bales of it to the blind workshop, where they make mattresses. It became their cotton. The cotton was of a superior grade and staple, unsuitable for processing in the workshop's equipment. It was sold, the proceeds used to buy suitable lower-grade cotton, the balance accounted for by the Mecklenburg Association of the Blind (it was used later to buy a new "blower"). The mattresses then were made on the County Government's order and delivered by the County to the Sanatorium.

Competent inspectors have certified that the mattresses were not nearly so bad as had been represented. It is true that the "blower" (since replaced) at the workshop of the blind was not equal to the task of cleansing the low-grade cotton of foreign matter such as pieces of leaves and bolls, and it is likewise true that the mattresses had been in continuous hospital service for an excessive period. But there were no floor-sweepings, etc. And nobody got away with any loose change.

In fact, the only tangible ill effect of the whole affair is that the blind of the workshop have had a sharp falling off in orders. And that, we all must admit, is ashamed.

Site Ed. Note: For a further look at this issue, see an article in The Nation, February 11, 1939.

No Place For Politics

The President seems to owe it to the country to make a public statement clearing up his position in regard to the sale of planes to France. There are but two things in his course which are open to question from any rational standpoint:

(1) The agreement to let France buy our most advanced type of bombers, over the reported protest of the War Department; and

(2) His alleged statement that our frontiers are in France. For the rest, France has quite as much right to buy airplanes here as she has to buy cotton goods.

On the other hand, the critics of his course are under emphatic obligation not to play politics in the situation. The temptation is obvious. There is a body of opinion in this country which views everything Mr. Roosevelt does as being ipso facto wicked, and it would be easy to whip it into a frenzy over foreign policy.

But to do that would be dangerously near to giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Mr. Roosevelt's defenders insist that he never said that our frontiers were in France, but only that France and Britain are our first line of defense in the Atlantic. And if that is the case, then he said nothing that high naval officers haven't said often--only what our naval tactics have been based on for twenty years. But in any case whatever, the President's arguments ought to be examined cooly and judiciously, and not politically, lest we play to the obvious purpose of Adolf Hitler, as pointed out by both Dorothy Thompson and Walter Lippman: to create chaos in American public opinion.

Anticlimax to Revolt*

Congress sent to the President yesterday the very first bill of the session, all embossed and ready for his signature. It was the much-wrangled-over bill making an appropriation to keep WPA going for awhile, and it contained these features:

A cut of $150,000,000 in the sum recommended by the President, with instructions to WPA not to reduce its rolls at more than a minimum rate and an invitation to the President to come back for more if he should need it.

A denial of relief to aliens.

A provision making it felonious for any person to solicit campaign contributions from relief workers, deprive or threaten to deprive workers of relief because of their politics, or for relief officials to attempt to influence elections.

A reversal of the Executive order blanketing administrative employees under civil service.

The bill did NOT contain any limitation on the differential in WPA wages as between sections of the country.

Hence, what the bill actually accomplishes is:

Precious little economy, if any.

The elimination of politics in relief except for Congressional patronage.

The enunciation of a new policy of distinguishing between citizens and non-citizens, no matter how unquestionable the legal status of the latter.

The continuation of a wage differential in relief, 100 per cent in the most extreme case, in direct contradiction to the policy of no-differential as expressed in the Wage & Hour Act.

Alphabetical Labyrinth*

Get out your compass and handy code book and follow this, if you can.

Under American Federation of Labor sponsorship, a new textile union restricted to the South has been formed. Its name is, Southern Cotton Textile Federation, and of course its chief talking point is that it will be wholly Southern in membership and management.

The old United Textile Workers which Francis Gorman led out of AFL into CIO, and now is trying to lead back into AFL again, was suspended by the AFL and has not yet been reinstated. (But there are UTW locals in the South, with treasuries, officers, constitutions and all the usual appurtenances.)

The new Southern union has elected its own officers, all Southerners and good AFL members, and also has designated representatives to sit on UTW's executive board along with New England's representatives, all headed up my Francis Gorman.

So that what we have is an AFL union--two unions, in fact--as operating units of a holding company run by UTW, which is to say by Francis Gorman, which is to say further by one who is not yet in good and regular standing with AFL. Verily, it's a wise union man who knows these days where to pay his dues.


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