The Charlotte News

Monday, March 27, 1939


Site Ed. Note: While we never participated in or saw anyone else participate in--honest--any such thing as described below in "A Costly Waste", we did one fine spring day in the first week of March, 'twas 1973, have occasion to have an 11:00 a.m. mid-term examination, an important examination, in the same subject as that wherein the rocky misstep recounted below occurred--that is, the study of stones and earth, hot and ordinary, and other things of terra firma, the waters and the heavens besides.

The night before this examination of our rudimentary knowledge in same, having procrastinated through the two cold months preceding, the glacial remnants across the moraines of our mind having prevented our ingesting the finer aspects of the various types of alluvial plains, tectonic plate crunches, sedimentary formations, tidal currents, chills and fevers which beset our memory banks, we studied and studied the night away, until 6:00 a.m.; thereon exhausted, went to pillow.


Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb...well not even that--for it was, it said, 11:40 now--clear eyes again--can't be--must be dream--reality strikes the heart in fury now and hooves beat apace, bolting to door, celeriously through the ordinary 15 minutes from, to class, now in semibreve compression, proving relativity and mind over materia prima the whole way.

...Though we shan't recount the ways, we framed ourselves within the exterior classroom door--we can see it now, still--just precisely at 11:51, as students in steady procession filed soberly past the professor, handing to him their examination papers, complete and studiously performed, as we slunk-stooped down into ourselves--hoping mercifully that reality itself would turn away and take no notice at all of our skulking existence, that in analogue but to prosimians, and rest content to let us pass on our way to another day, untested, untried.

A large class of probably 120 it was, and so we cleared our throat in preparation for an orison coupled with a soliloquy on the honors of proper sleep suddenly dashed to horrors in the space of a miliampere's spark communicated at a circuit junction, brought to interface via the involuntarily extended digit to press the button on top o' the clock: "I've got a problem..."

"You sure do," came the terse reply, banging our speech to a halt and shocking us that there was instant recognition not only that we were a student in the class but also that we were the one such student who had just arrived late for the examination.

"...overslept," swallow-garbled we in muddled conclusion.

There followed an interminable pregnant silence as more students filed past. A vague, hopeless sort of faint grin strained to crease the lines of our face as we came ever so slowly to an understanding that this could mean the end of all time--as the tectonic plates collided headlong into one another, the earth rumbled, the tsunamis at sea gave vent to Vulcan's fury tied in the earth and swallowed us whole in one furiously dramatic inland rush past all the sedimentary rock of ages old beneath our feet at the moment in the Carolina blue soil--(the dirt of Pulpit Hill, as everyone knows who has been there, is as blue as the cloudless sky in Cote d'Azure, and that's a fact).

The professor looked at us again with a sardonic expression of disgust and pity, tight-lipped, strained. We winced and turned different shades of purple in cold sweat.

Finally, he broke the silence, as we stood feeling as one might if, prepared for days to do a mighty race in a river rapid, hiking to the backcountry ten miles to the headwater to begin, it suddenly became apparent that the alluvial plain had moved the whole of the river north fifteen miles leaving but a sandy strand in its wake, all in the space of tempus irregular.

"You're in luck." Our heart paused from racing back up stream and raised steadily and gleefully with the tide of his uplifted voice. "I'm giving the same exam to my other class at 2:00. Be there, and don't ever do this again."

Profuse thanks to this good, honorable, honest professor--decent, fine, honorable, good professor--most just and judicious professor--followed. And we herewith thank him again, as we have never forgotten his benevolence and never shall. And we never did do that again, that is sleep through an 11:00 a.m. exam--or any other for that matter, with due exception made for perhaps two or three for which we were in attendance and on time nevertheless.

If it sounds as something sophomoric, it is probably because that is exactly when it occurred; and besides, it was at the first buds of spring and, if memory serves, the first day of the A.C.C. Tournament.

The Spartans lost to the Deaconate boys and went to the N.I.T. where they finished second; we survived at 2:00, and wound up with a B.

The tsunami subsided and the blue soil still fills the lovely, otherwise verdant fields in Pulpit Hill. And, regardless of the purpose for our awakening, whether test or otherwise, we have never, ever overslept again, even on Saturdays--and that's a fact.

We include the below letter to the editor on the reader's changing view of Bumble, in part apparently premised on Cash's consistent editorials on the subject, not quite, but almost daily since Munich.

In Which Our View Of Bumble Wins Assent

Dear Sir:

After all these years I am beginning to peruse the editorial pages, in the past having devoured front page, sports and comics, glancing over the rest. Your live, informative and yet entertaining editorial page started me paying more attention to that section, as I always felt that I should.

At first I thought that you were a little hard on Mr. Bumble. I tried to see his "angle." I pictured him as a kindly man, throwing his efforts into averting a great war that would have set civilization back scores of years, even though he would have to grant some concessions to the dictators. I saw him as a man who is game enough to face scorn and ridicule because he knew that his moves would ultimately work out to the advantage of the greatest number. But I thought that, forced into it, he could be as stern, as relentless, as purposeful as Lincoln in the face of criticism.

But Mr. Bumble is beginning to slip in my estimation. I am beginning to think that Mr. Bumble has feet of clay. The Munich sell-out didn't change my views so much as events of later date. I am beginning to think Mr. Bumble "doesn't know what it's all about."

Please read the Associated Press brief from London. Now skip over the rest and read the one from Moscow. Maybe, I'm just too dumb to take it in, but it just doesn't make sense. And the quotation from Mr. Bumble! Sounds as if he might be at last "getting wise" to the need for a firmer hand in his dealings with the mad dogs.

Again expressing my appreciation for your splendid editorials I am,



*Note: These are the dispatches and the quotation referred to.--Editors, The News.

LONDON.--Britain calls for combination of Russia, France, Poland, and herself against German ambitions; clamor increases for some form of conscription.

MOSCOW.--Soviet Government announces Britain has rejected as "premature" a Soviet proposal for a six-power conference to meet German expansion. Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister:

"However much the British people may want peace, they feel instinctively that there are things without which life, as they know it, would not be worth living."

One More Squad*

Tim Pridgen's story about the County Commissioners' new authority to create a plainclothes squad, started off this way--

"Dynamite for the big shots in Mecklenburg rackets is planted in the amendments to the Rural Police Bill now on its way through the Legislature..."

Maybe so. Maybe detectives unknown to the trade and dedicated solely to the undertaking of snaring the big shots, may succeed where two police forces, one with its own detective division, are so singularly failing at present. Let us all hope so, at any rate.

But as for ourselves, we should like to enter a skeptical forecast. Man and boy, we've seen rackets spring up and commence to flourish. Liquor, butter 'n' eggs, prostitution, political corruption--the whole unlovely lot of them. And the number of real proprietors brought to justice in all that time is negligible.

Maybe this time, by an extraordinary undercover attack; maybe not. But let us hope for results.

A Costly Waste

The case of the thirteen students at Chapel Hill who have been suspended for cheating on a geology examination is explained by the professor in charge by the fact that there were more than a hundred students in the class and that therefore it was impossible to seat them "at the proper interval" from one another. But that is only a superficial explanation.

Actually, what this case serves to point is the fact that there are thousands of students cluttering up our colleges and universities who have no business there. Students who are either incapable of learning the sort of thing taught in academic courses, and who have no interest in learning it--and who are there only because their parents foolishly imagine that putting them through the mill and hanging a degree upon them is to "educate" them. Students who are costing the state large sums--without any commensurate return.

A college, a class in geology, is a place for the teaching of certain kinds of knowledge. And nothing is plainer than that nobody has any business there who is not (1) capable of acquiring that kind of knowledge and (2) at least reasonably interested in acquiring it. In a democracy, it would probably be to go too far to limit--as is sometimes suggested--college admittance to only the most brilliant students. But certainly it would not be going too far to bar out the kind of grown men who have to be seated "at proper interval" to keep them from pretending to have a knowledge that they haven't acquired by their own study.

Perfect Combination

The jaypee-deputy sheriff combination is back in print. In Mobile, Ala., five men, including three plantation owners, one jaypee, and one deputy, have been arrested and charged with peonage. According to the allegations, a Negro family had been living on lands of the three planters, named Suttle; admittedly owed them money; moved away to another county; claim that they had gone on paying on the debt but that "it appeared to them they would never retire the obligation;" that the deputy came and arrested them; and that the jaypee gave them their choice of going back to the Suttle plantation or going to jail, with the result that they went back.

As to the truth of these allegations we don't know--that is for our court to decide. But it is significant that the action seems to have been brought by the public prosecutor after an investigation on his own initiative. And certainly, as far as peonage goes, studies of various Federal agencies, have clearly established that it does exist on a considerable scale in the Deep South at least. And as for a modus operandi for that, a successful method of holding men illegally in slavery for a debt, real or fraudulent,--well, does anybody think that by and large the real judges of the Deep South would lend themselves to that? Of course not. But the jaypee-deputy or jaypee-constable combination--ah, there, as we have seen over and over again, is the perfect combination for carrying out illegal purposes in the name of the law.

Bait For Peace-Loving Suckers

The Peace That Mussolini Wants Is One On Terms Of His And Hitler's Dictation

Is there sound ground for the eager effort of England and France to see Mussolini's speech yesterday as opening the way to the detachment of Italy from the alliance with Germany? Or is it mere wishful thinking?

Well, it is possible to find some foundation for the first view in three things in the speech: (1) that he said that the barrier (Spain) which had existed between France and Italy had disappeared; (2) that he called for a long period of peace in Europe "to safeguard civilization;" and (3) that at one point he seemed to invite France to talk over his colonial demands instead of automatically crying "jamais!"

But it requires a strenuous effort really to see any of this as conciliatory. The remarks about Spain amount to a boast that he has taken it and means to keep it and that France may as well make up her mind to swallow that fact. And as for peace, he makes quite plain what he means by "safeguarding civilization in Europe" in his telegram to Hitler, wherein he says that their two "revolutionary movements" are destined to create a new order in Europe. He wants "peace," that is, on his own terms and for the turning of all Europe into a Fascist preserve. And when his remarks to France are viewed in the light of his remarks about force, they really constitute nothing but a warning to France that if she doesn't give him what he wants, he'll make war.

There is not the slightest doubt that Mussolini wants peace--that Hitler wants it. They have never really desired to make war--but to take what they want under perpetual threat of making war. Mussolini in particular has every reason to fear war. For even though the Axis should eventually win--an immensely dubious proposition by his own theory that force is the final arbiter, since the greater real force lies with the democracies--Italy would almost certainly be turned into a wasteland in the meantime.

But when he says:

"The attempts to crack and break the Rome-Berlin Axis are childish. The Axis is not only a relationship between two states. It is a meeting between two revolutions which have shown themselves opposed to all other conceptions of contemporary civilization. Here is the strength of the Axis. And here are the conditions of its duration"

--when he says that, he probably analyzes the case with great candor and accuracy.

He will, if he can, inveigle France into giving him what he wants in the hope and belief that she is thereby detaching him from Hitler. But the record shows that his word is quite as worthless as Hitler's. And if France falls for this game, she will probably be doing all over again the same thing that was done at Munich and in the grotesque Spanish non-intervention agreement--making the Axis stronger for new and greater demands.

A Family Row

The President's brood is at it again. Elliott Roosevelt, who seems not nearly so bright as either his ma or pa, began it this time by putting in a plug for Vice-President Garner as the leading candidate for 1940. This manifest impropriety drew a retort from Son-In-Law John Boettiger, co-publisher with Daughter Anna of Mr. Hearst's Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which was all right except that Son-In-Law John chose to make his rejoinder in the form of an open letter. Elliott, after deploring John's bad taste, promptly cracked back in the same medium.

A good bit is to be excused in this President's family. They are an active crew, whose active mother has, in all consistency, given them their heads. And apparently the system has worked out all right so far in the case of the two boys who married young and retired to private life, but Elliott and Son Jimmy and Son-In-Law John and appendage are too taken with the uses of Presidential kinship to resist opportunities to trade on it.

Their Name Is Legion*

A new peace organization has been formed in New York under the name of the American Union for Concerted Peace Efforts. The committee in charge of organization is composed of bigwigs such as Professor James T. Shotwell, and it will campaign for "international co-operation as against isolation."

We set that down, not to remark on its policy one way or the other but merely as a preliminary to observing that, after joining patriotic and genealogical societies, the thing the American seems to like to do best is to join a peace society. There are literally dozens of such societies already in existence, devoted in part or wholly to the purpose. From the most casual inquiry, we set down the following:

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Church Peace Union.

Federal Council, Churches of Christ in America.

World Alliance for International Friendship through the Churches.

International House of New York.

World League for Permanent Peace.

National Council for the Prevention of War.

American Association of University Women.

American League for Peace and Democracy.

National Board, YWCA.

League of Nations Association.

General Federation of Womens Clubs.

World Peace Foundation.

Institute of International Education.

National Committee on the Cause and Cure of War.

Etc., Etc., Etc.


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