The Charlotte News

Monday, April 10, 1939


Site Ed. Note: The incidental mention in "Weather To Order" of "a sunny day in June fit to be married on" may have occurred to Cash for the fact that his sister Bertie's engagement announcement picture appeared in the previous day's News, to be followed by a June 16 wedding date--one kept, where older brother wept, (though not in sadness).

The day before also saw the concert by Marian Anderson on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before an Easter crowd of 75,000. Ms. Anderson had been refused the ability to sing at Constitution Hall by the D. A. R. on the basis of race (there having been no blacks, you know, in the American Revolution, never minding that Crispus Attucks fellow); Mrs. Roosevelt intervened and aided in the organizing of the Lincoln Memorial concert, a starting bookend for Martin Luther King's speech 24 years later at the same spot.

The tax decision discussed in "Nine Cast for Hamlet" would concede to the state the right to tax a Federal judge's salary, as with any other citizen. (See O'Malley v. Woodrough, 307 US 277 (1939), in association with "Judges' Jest", and its accompanying note, May 23, 1939.)

The below letter refers back to "Thar's Frenjies in Them Mountains". Candidly, we read the April 6 piece as being good natured toward both the Brevardians and the French; the fact that the editor of The Transylvania Times took some apparent genuinely priggish umbrage at the whole matter therefore tends to suggest the editorial perhaps should have set down the mountain folk in fact as a pack of backward, coxcombical and provincial fools--which it didn't. The editorial didn't appear to pick on them the least bit for pigeon English in the first place--though plentiful there is of that thar still to be heard in them far hills. But you can't please all them peoples all o' de time. Likewise, no one accused the editor of the local newspaper or the community's better educated and situated citizens generally of being backward. Once again, that old Southern defensive pattern at work?--as sometimes still it is in big towns and small, the hallmark of provincialism anywhere it arises. "You callin' us back'ard, boy?"

Then again, maybe the letter from and to the editor was meant to be taken cheerily--in which case we prove the point of defensiveness all over again on ourselves, we fraternité of the provence.

A Fellow Editor Proceeds To Put Us In Our Place

The Charlotte News.
Charlotte N. C.

Dear Mr. Enlightener of the World????

Just had a good laugh after reading your editorial page of April 6th.

May I suggest that you visit the "Denizens of the Sapphire Country" before you explode again on the prospects of "mutual astonishment" when a French party comes here to aid in starting the new plant of the Ecusta Paper Corporation.

We've seen people from outside the French Broad Valley before, and we've had Frenchmen (French ladies, too) here, as visitors, and as permanent residents. In fact, I expect a French peasant or a member of the Chamber of Deputies would come as near (probably a lot nearer) feeling at home in Brevard than he would in Charlotte.

If the "Frenjies" are able to speak French (and I presume they will be), our people will be able to converse with them fairly well, and if they speak English, as you surmise they may, certainly we will would be able to talk with them on as even a keel as the mighty men of Mecklenburg would or could do... we'un's don' spikka da pidgin Ingleesh... not by a D---- sight.

We had French people living here "befo de Wah" and they found our folks sufficiently intelligent to make this their home, and be happy... send their youngsters to our "mounting-eer" school teachers for "larnin'" and invest their money in our holdings.

I think one of our "pidgin English" speaking chaps was an officer in the World War over a whale of a lot of Mecklenburg fellows, and he says he found your folk can be fairly intelligent.

I think, also, that one of our Brevard fellows is now working 20 or 25 Charlotteans in an oil business down there.

I think, also that one of our Brevard fellows is bossing a big bunch of your folk down there now as a wholesaler.

I think, also, that one of our Brevard fellows is bossing all the prohibition forces in North Carolina, with headquarters in Charlotte.

I think, also, that your paper said during the past twelve months that one of our Brevard fellows had the "Book of the Month."

I think, also, that three years ago one of our Brevard girls won the State D. A. R. Citizenship award over eleven girls from Mecklenburg.

I think, also, that one of our Brevard-born boys held court down in Charlotte within the past year as a Superior Court judge.

I think, also, that your legislative delegation ran into one of our Brevard boys down in Raleigh since January first, and found that the "Administrative Whip" wasn't such an ignoramus as your editorial of Thursday implies.

I think also...but why rave on?

We will be as you say "in their way, polite people" when the French come along, and we'll probably get along with them without "a-feudin'," as you put it, and we probably won't be so bad, that we'll have to have a MAFLO checking up on the morals, or a Federal investigator come along and help the grand jury hunt through the county home mattresses to find sticks and other trash.

One of our brave fellows went out into what is sometimes termed civilization (according to your way of thinking) one time, and he said he heard one of "them air" thing-a-ma-jigs youns call a radio play a song which seems to fit the occasion very well--

"We'll get along--somehow."

White-mulishingly, backwoodishly yours,

Editor, Transylvania Times.


Weather To Order

James M. Howe, the weather man, was born in Vermont. He came to us two years ago next July, from the station in Oswego, New York, a blustery burg of 22,000 on the shores of Lake Ontario.

All of which is to say that Mr. Howe has had slight experience in turning out weather to the order of good Southerners and Democrats. A cold and frosty morning, now, with the delicious aroma of sausage wafting up the stairs, to the room under the eaves, or a sunny day in June fit to be married on--those, considering the gentleman's nativity and previous residence, we'd expect him to supply, in season, on short notice. Such feats are routine in the meteorological service.

But such a day as yesterday was, we have rarely seen. It fell not far short of perfection. It was as good a piece of whether as any back there in the 1920s, prior to Mussolini, Hitler and the New Deal. It was, in fine, a lovely Easter, and just to show that it was no accident, the new weather man turned out practically a replica for the colored Easter that takes place today.

On behalf of the community, we extend to Mr. Howe sincere congratulations and solicitations. It may interest him to know that we are sending three certified copies of this resolution to Commander Reichelderfer, the head weather man.

Nine Cast For Hamlet

The Nine Old Men--no longer so old with Bill Douglas among them--seem to be in for a Hamlet session with themselves. To do it or not to do it, whether 'tis best to hang on to the jack when you've got it and endure the slings and arrows of outraged taxpayers or nobly to resign the cash and, confessing that they be men like others, stand forth for the plaudits of a pleased people--that is the question they have to decide.

For up from Nebraska has come the question of whether or not a state has a right to levy income tax on the salary of a Federal circuit judge. A Federal district judge out there, not staying to play Hamlet, said it didn't, on the quaint ground that the Constitution forbids the reduction of a Federal judge's pay during his term of office. But Nebraska has appealed, and now it's up to the Nine to make the final painful decision.

Painful decision. For if, tongues in cheeks, they uphold the lower court, the uproar from the taxpayers is going to be awful. On the other hand--if a state can tax the salary of a circuit judge, then, of course, it can tax the salary of a Supreme Court judge, too. And although Supreme Court judges do their work in Washington, they almost invariably maintain residence in the states from which they came. And what an income tax can do to a salary of 20,000 smackers is a dreadful thing to contemplate.

Jim Ham Lewis

It has been pretty well forgotten, but Jim Ham Lewis was by birth and training a Southerner. Born in Danville, Virginia, he was taken to Georgia as a child and was educated at Houghton College in that state, at the University of Virginia, and at a Savannah law school, and at Baylor University in Texas.

And that, no doubt, at least as much as his subsequent connection with Washington State, serves to explain him. His obvious love for the romantic and the spectacular--his pompous manner--his measured and rotund phrases: all these were native to the Southern politician in his time, and to some extent remains so today. He was more kin to the Heflins than to the John Sharp Williamses, but he was kin to both, astonishing waistcoats, [indiscernible word] whiskers, and all.

Not a great man, nevertheless he had an extremely interesting career, having been a soldier and a far traveler as well as a politician. And in his time he had been more or less important. He was the man who introduced the resolution recognizing the independence of Cuba--which resulted in the Spanish-American War. He was the first whip in the Senate. And he did good work abroad during the war.

Altogether a pleasant and amiable fellow. The Senate will be less colorful and interesting for his passing.

Can Bumble Really Stop Him?

That Policy Of Pretending To Believe The Shirted Lords Seems To Have About Run Its Course

Is Mr. Bumble of Downing Street actually capable of decisive action? Or is he fated to go on bumbling until the British Empire is finished off by a process of attrition?

The answer to that we ought to know pretty plainly before long now. And it does not bode too well that he chose the time of a great crisis to go off fishing.

It would not absolutely follow, perhaps, that because he should say he believed Mr. Mussolini when the latter solemnly assured him his seizure of Albania was not directed at Britain, or that his objectives there are "strictly limited," and that he has no designs upon Jugoslavia and Greece--it would not follow that he is still playing the sucker. But, in view of the record, it would very nearly follow.

His error all along is that he has been trying to deal with highwaymen, as it were, under the code duello. That he has ever actually believed that Mussolini or Hitler meant their promises seems incredible. Every day that has passed since the original making of the so-called "Spanish non-intervention" agreement has demonstrated anew that Mussolini is a brass-bound, unmitigated liar. And just two days before the Albanian conquest began, Count Ciano calmly gave the British Ambassador "assurances" that Italy had no thought of undertaking any such thing. As for Hitler, he had, before Munich, three times publicly and solemnly promised to go no farther, and then promptly gone farther!

What Bumble seems to have been doing was to pretend to believe them, to go on dealing with them as though he counted them for gentlemen, in the expectation that they would presently have enough and actually begin to behave like gentlemen. And if he goes on pretending to believe them now, it will probably be in the hope of being able to outwit them at diplomacy and encircle them.

But that course looks exceedingly dubious. The tactics of the bandit rulers do not at all contemplate war. They simply look to piecemeal advance, within the framework of British vacillation. Today it is Albania, tomorrow it may be Danzig or the Corridor or the Transylvania mountains or Jugoslavia. Always the objective will be too small to justify a fight in itself. But if it is allowed to go on long enough, the Axis will have the whole East in the bag, and will be in position to hope to destroy the power of Britain and France--to dictate terms at a new Munich. Moreover, because of their unvarying success, the small nations are kept in a state of perpetual terror and perplexity. Observing what has happened to those who resisted and observing British indecision--is it very reasonable to expect them to line up with the Franco-British front?

To a layman's eye, at least, what England really seems to need most is a spectacular exhibition of the will and power to fight--a laying down of the law. "Thus far and no farther," backed with ships stripped for action and carrying orders to shoot to kill. Something to place the choice of war or subsidence squarely before the dictators, and something to put heart and confidence into the unhappy little nations the Axis has marked out as its oysters.

To Catch A Thief

It is an ironic commentary on something that, once more, as in the case of Al Capone and a hundred others, the only way a man can be got at is to charge him with violation of the income tax laws.

Boss Pendergast has been publicly charged with all sorts of things. It has been said over and over again in print, without challenge on the part of himself or his henchmen, that his "machine" in Kansas City is founded on an alliance with prostitution, gambling, racketeering and graft. Immediately after the elections in 1936, wholesale charges of vote frauds were brought against his outfit. Within two years 278 persons were indicted, 36 pleaded guilty, 160 threw themselves on the mercy of the court--prison sentences ranging up to five years were meted out. But no indictment was ever returned against Boss Pendergast, admittedly the backbone of the whole gang.

And now in this case, the United States Attorney General says he has found that Boss Pendergast, expert political fixer, got $315,000 out of a "mysterious fine" of $447,000 which "changed hands" in an insurance settlement, under which the policy-holders got only 20 per cent of $9,500,000 in impounded premiums. But the only action taken against him is an indictment for failing to report it as income and pay the taxes due!

It comes dangerously close to saying that the highest of crimes among us is tax-dodging: that, so far as either the State of Missouri or the Federal Government is concerned, you can, if you are powerful enough, do almost anything under the sun and get away with it--but that if you ever cross the line and start dodging taxes, boy, then you have got yourself in trouble.


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