The Charlotte News

Monday, March 20, 1939


Site Ed. Note: Ah, Spartans; you let George, the non-signer, trump you this time. All in all, however, a superb season well played.

To be fair, incidentally, George refused to sign in part because of the absence of a bill of rights; unfortunately his notion of a bill of rights was one, like most of his contemporaries, only for whites, as his refusal was also precipitated by certain compromises the South made with the North prohibiting importation of slaves to the South and between states and territories.

"Only Two Now", the rest consigned to "floating shadows", refers back to "They Are Four", November 11, 1938. Similarly, see "A Local War", September 2, 1939, "Battle Hymn", October 11, 1940, "A Rebel", January 6, 1941, and "Boy Soldier", January 22, 1941.

"Tobacco Prohibition" probably should have become a reality with the passing of the generation which brought it to fruition as a cash crop in the first place after the Civil War. Like the toll from that war, many untold numbers have died since 1939 from the nicotine addiction. Yet, economic necessity and family traditions and land passed along generationally would prolong the crop's life for another 65 years and more. Still evident in the Tobacco Road country-side, far less so than in times past. Like the Civil War veteran in the 1930's, it, too, now is passing from the landscape.

Having added a couple of other pieces by the elderly H. E. C. Bryant of Chapel Hill, we might as well add the one below, too. Mr. Bryant had many memories of bygone days, most of his fond ones imparted in print at least appearing quite anachronistic to the times of 1939, and sounding even more so to our own day.

In point of fact, of course, his enchantment with representing so pinpointedly accurately the waiter's speech below obscures the probability that the Doc's speech sounded more like this:

"Bria hawg? I neva hud o' that. Whawt is thaat?"

"...Naw and I dawn want any o' that 'til I know mo' 'bout it... I've hud of awl sawts of hawgs, but not bria hawgs. Nawsuh. Not bria hawgs.

"It's nawt a raza-back, is it? How 'bout a pine-roota?"

So you can plug that into your auditory imagery of the scene, and by it more than likely have a more accurate recording of the exchange recounted.

But, we weren't there at the time.

The reportage also begs the question as to whether "Br'er", often thought in Uncle Remus lore to be a contraction of "Brier" because of the briarpatch, wasn't instead meant to be for "Brother". We vote, given the multiple contexts used in the stories, that it was the latter. Thus, it may be that the waiter was in fact speaking of "Brother Hog". Regardless, being tar babies, we was bawn and bred in the br'erpatch.

Perhaps fittingly, the site of the Hotel Jones, long gone, has been, since the early 1970's, that of the local Federal Building.

Know Brier Hog? He's Uncle Remus' Chief Actor

H. E. C. Bryant, Chapel Hill Weekly

The Hotel Jones, or the Jones House, as it was known, was an attractive Winston-Salem resort for weary travelers during the reign of the late Richard J. Reynolds, tobacco king. Many a time did I see the tall, formidable son of Patrick County, Virginia, preside at informal gatherings at that hospitable public place. After the day's work was over, he and his brother Walter, and some of their associates in the tobacco business, and horse racing were in the habit of meeting in the lobby to swap yarns and recall experiences.

Among the regular guests at the Jones House was Rev. R. E. Caldwell, a well-known and popular Presbyterian preacher. I used to be assigned to a seat at his table when I stopped over for a day or two.

Manager Jones, an elderly, soft-mannered man with a gray beard, did not provide printed bills of fare, but had the Negro waiters call off the viands for each meal. It was there that I first heard of "brier hog." Jim, a large, fat-cheeked, yellow man who served our table listed the meats, including "brier hog."

At the mention of that item several diners looked up, and Dr. Caldwell inquired: "Brier hog, that's a new dish to me; what is it?"

Others wanted to know what they could expect but were too proud to show their ignorance. I was stumped.

"Why, doctor, ain't you never had no brier hog?" said Jim. "De woods about here is full of 'em."

"No, and I don't want any of that dish until I know more about it," said Dr. Caldwell. "I have heard of many sorts of hogs but not that one. It's not a razor-back or pine-rooter, is it?"

"No, sir, boss, it's a rabbit, plain old-field Mollie Cotton Tail, sir, and it's good, barbecued like we does it," explained Jim.

That was years before people were afraid of the rabbit disease that we hear so much about nowadays. After that night Jim's dish was popular. Dr. Caldwell gave brier hog parties.

Other People's Consciences

Manager Neil McGill, a polite fellow, would have looked ridiculously out of place in the police line-up, which probably is why they didn't take him into custody and thrust him into the hoosegow Saturday night for letting his show at the Imperial Theater overrun the midnight deadline by sixteen minutes. Instead, they cited him to appear in court, saying, "We'll make a test case of this."

The test case is of the Imperial's ingenious attempt to outwit the Blue Law by letting the House stand treat for that part of the performance which takes place after 12:00, Eastern Standard Time. And the management will pardon us, we trust, for hoping that it loses. Any avoidance of the law is simply an evasion of the issue, and the issue is, shall the police power be invoked to compel the observance of religious doctrines by adults who may not subscribe to them?

Perhaps they should subscribe to them, but that is beside the point. So are the sixteen minutes of overtime beside the point. So is everything in the case except the imposing of the conscientious scruples of a part of the people upon the rest, and the misuse of the public law-making power to compel observance.

Tobacco Prohibition*

Representative John H. Kerr comes from North Carolina. So, principally, does flue-cured tobacco. But foreign consumers of our tobacco have begun to grow it on their own hook, using our plants and seed. British India, for example, increased its production of flue-cured from 32,000 lbs. in 1928 to 36,000,000 lbs. in 1938, which is a lot of tobacco, not so much, to be sure, compared to North Carolina's usual 4-500,000,000 pounds but still a trickle of competition.

That threat explains Mr. Kerr's bill to prohibit the exportation of flue-cured tobacco seed and plants. The last thing North Carolina wants to see is a world market for his leaf lost to the tobacco farmer as the cotton farmer has lost the world market for his staple. But an uneasy presentiment keeps asking to be heard, and it is that what lost the world market for cotton was not the natural ability of other lands to grow cotton of an equal quality with ours but their necessity to grow it to keep from paying the synthetic prices we were asking. And the way to keep them smoking the rich, fragrant North Carolina tobacco--they grow a sort of jimpson weed of their own which will do for a puff in a pinch--is to let them have it at a price which will discourage competition and substitution.

Only Two Now

Now there are only two of them left--the men in Mecklenburg who fought with the armies of the Confederacy. It was only the other day that we were writing that there were five. But A. S. Beatty past, then J. R. Paul, and now it is Colonel D. W. Mayes, Commander of the Mecklenburg Camp, United Confederate Veterans.

He was just seventeen years old when he went marching off to war at Seven Pines and Chancellorsville in 1863. And at that he had, when he died, lived to see 92 returning Springs. Which is to say that when he was born James Knox Polk was President of the United States, and the great issues in the land were the annexation of the Republic of Texas, and the rumbling of the coming storm over that man Garrison in Boston. Only the boy soldiers, you see, are left at all. For the rest of all the great troop of young men in their twenties and thirties who went pouring out to fill the armies of Lee and Jackson, who went jauntily forth in the flush and pride of their early manhood, are gone, almost to the last one.

Two in Mecklenburg are left--C. W. Benson and Thomas N. Alexander. The others sleep, glad no doubt to be at rest at last. And the memory of their battles begins to be names in books, floating shadows like the flag of the state for which they fought, which in a brief span now shall no longer stir remembered images in the brain of any man alive upon the whole earth. And, looking at Europe, most of us will agree today that it was well they lost. But the memory that they were brave--that they were among the very finest fighting men the world has seen--that memory will not die from the heart of a proud people.

A Long, Long Word

Yesterday the late flying Colonel Goering, now Field Marshal of Germany, met the late Corporal Hitler, now master of all the Germanies and Bohemia and Moravia besides, with the proud declaration that these last two acquisitions would never be relinquished, come what might.

But never, masters, is a very long word, indeed. And there has been talk like that before. After the Franco-Prussian War, for instance. Then the Bismarcks and the Von Moltkes screamed that the new Germany would never surrender Alsace and Lorraine. Or again, when the first peace talks were proposed in 1916, when the whole corps of German generals loudly informed their government that they would never consent to giving up Belgium and the Flemish provinces of France. And still again in the last days of August, 1918, when Ludendorff, though he had already admitted that his cause was lost, was still insisting that he would never consent to give up Belgium or to let France off without an indemnity! But, as everyone knows, Alsace-Lorraine, the Flemish provinces and Belgium were surrendered.

And these Czechs are a brave and proud people. Of them it can be said at once that they will never be successfully submerged. For 300 years they were held prisoner by Hungary and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but they cannot really be subdued. And it is quite unlikely that they will have to endure anything like so long a captivity this time before they are again rescued from the new barbarian hordes to their west. For in those days Bohemia and Moravia were very remote provinces whose fate interested few people. But the world is infinitely smaller today. And whatever happens to the two provinces is today inevitably the business of lands even as far away as our own.

Never, Herr Goering? It is a very large word. And to make it good the Germans are going to need more military geniuses than it is likely they will find in a late colonel and a late corporal.

A Known Quantity*

In his two terms as Mayor, Ben Douglas has given the city an excellent administration. For the actual running of the municipal corporation, which takes in and pays out millions of dollars every year, chief credit must go, as the Mayor doubtless will promptly concede, to the City Manager, and the retention of Mr. Marshall in that position is the most important of all the questions which will be posed by the coming election.

But Mayor Douglas himself has been a decided asset to the city. He has thrown himself wholeheartedly into the office, expending time and thought beyond the bare requirements of the Mayor's job. He is a born booster, and he dotes on the functionary part of his role, which perhaps explains why he carries it out so well.

Most of all in his favor is the fact that he is a known quantity; an influence on the side of good government and honesty in government. The record of two terms is his best recommendation for a third.

Two Thousand Judges

Probably by this week the Legislature will get around to the usual bill nominating justices of the peace in the 100 counties of the state. The Hon. John Smith from Jones County will propose that his friends and supporters, Tom, Dick and--reading from left to right--Harry, et al., be appointed to administer the laws of the State in civil actions up to $200 and in criminal actions for which the penalty is no greater than a $50 fine or 30 days in jail. And all the other Hon.'s will join in with the Hon. Smith to repay their political debts with a license to hold court, and all the time the Governor's secretary or somebody will be putting the Great Seal of the State on jaypee commissions of the Executive's own prerogative, so that in the end some 2,000 magistrates will have been authorized by one means or another to set themselves up as judges.

The chief disgrace of the system is not, however, wholesale appointment of justices of the peace or the fact that the Legislature voted down a bill simply to limit their number. No, the utterly shameful thing about the whole business is that the State turns these magistrates loose without examination as to their character or fitness or even their sanity, and only the scantest supervision over their acts and decisions--with power to deprive persons of their liberty; i.e., to put them in jail. That the State also licenses any of these magistrates, who may be so disposed, to prey upon ignorance and capitalize the common man's fear of the law, only adds injury to indifference.


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