The Charlotte News

Thursday, June 22, 1939


Site Ed. Note: As follow-up to yesterday's "Literary Critic", we reprint a letter-to-the-editor appearing in this edition of The News. Anyone who has had occasion to visit the seasonally running outdoor play of Paul Green in Manteo, N.C., viewing it not far from where the events depicted occurred, regarding the first English colonization in the New World, amid the summer mosquitoes and salt-sea air, with the same flora and fauna and seaside smells in evidence as those observed by the original settlers lost to time and memory, save their song, will perhaps share the experience of the writer--and feel equally weak-minded.

Take note. There will be more in the days ahead on morons...

Note Concerning Weak-Minded And Mr. Clark

Dear Sir:

I notice in the piece that you copied yesterday from Mr. David Clark's paper that he refers to Paul Green as "apparently weak-minded."

When I read that I couldn't help but think: I am one of the many thousands who have made the pilgrimage to Roanoke Island and have witnessed Paul Green's pageant, "The Lost Colony," a play which does anything but "reflect on the citizens of North Carolina." When I read Mr. Clark's astonishing characterization of Paul Green, I recalled the occasion when I was there. It was the evening hour, and the audience was gathering for the play. As the twilight deepened and "the vast vague shadow of night" rolled in across the scene westward from the sea, a great organ, concealed among the trees, began to play a salutation of praise to Almighty God. An invisible chorus of men's and women's voices rose in swelling harmony about it. Then the play began, and for two hours I was enthralled and moved as I seldom have been enthralled and moved before.

I say, when I read Mr. Clark's piece and discovered that the man who wrote that pageant was weak-minded, I couldn't help but challenge myself. If I could thus be moved by the play of a weak-minded man, maybe I too am weak-minded. I remember the verse:

"Oh pity the poor moron,
He doesn't give a damn,
I'd hate to be a moron,
My Lord, perhaps I am!"

And I then remember that in 1937, upon the occasion of the American Bar Association's celebration of the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, I had apostrophized to the framers of that document and their dream of a great, free nation, and had quoted from the conclusion of this same play of this weak-minded Paul Green:

"Now down the trackless hollow years
That swallowed them but not their song
We send response--

The dream still lives,
It lives, it lives,
And shall not die."

And then I thought that maybe the framers of the Constitution, when they inserted the Bill of Rights, were weak-minded!

And then I thought that maybe everybody is weak-minded!!

I hope not; because if you are weak-minded, it makes you write such silly foolish things.

C. W. Tillett.


Elmer's Back

Still Claiming Magic Qualities For His Monetary Manipulations

Senator Elmer Thomas of Oklahoma is at his old tricks. He wants to print up some money. He's been wanting to print money ever since the depression started, on the theory, as he once naively explained, that would shift wealth from those who have to those who haven't. What he meant, probably, was that to start up the printing presses would cheapen bank accounts, insurance policies, bonds and securities of a fixed return, all of which represent wealth, and by so much take away from those who have. But he failed to supply the virtuous corollary. To whose estate would inflation add?

As an economist, this Senator Thomas is untrustworthy. As a prophet, he has been thoroughly discredited. He was one of the sponsors of the absurd silver-purchasing program which was tacked onto a farm bill five years ago and in short order was going to revive our foreign trade, reinvigorate our domestic commerce and eject the depression by force. It has failed miserably to accomplish anything of the sort and is perhaps the worst fizzle the Administration has on its hands.

Carpe Diem

O, To Be Young And Gay--And To Play Slot Machines!

The paucity of genuine amusements in this our city life is appalling. If it were not so, if there were something better to do, surely our young men and women would not, to pass dull time away, have to resort to playing these childish pin games, better known by the generic term of slot machines.

For those whose arteries are toughening, there may be excuse. But the poets have assured us that it is really marvelous to be young and alive. To have that enviable vigor of body and titillating freshness of person. To be eager for excitement and capable of meeting it unabashed. To have time--blessed time--in which to follow out the suggestions of a lively, audacious mind.

And what do our city-grown young people do with their breath-taking years? Why, a good many of them play slot machines. They work awhile and make a few dollars, or they run home to beg change of mama, and return to drop these units of somebody's toil into the bottomless pit, without the small satisfaction of a splash, and to derive in the process apparently little of pleasure and certainly nothing of enrichment, not even experience.

It's sad, mates; it is sad. Sometimes we think these of blasé young players would be better off and would show more promise of development were they out sinning or something, instead of merely killing time with tepid vice and a gadget.

Still At It

The British Government Goes On Pretending Its Enemies Are Nice

A forthright old gentleman like Admiral Yarnell is a comfort in a world down with more kinds of prostration than that due to the heat. Save for the clarity of his announcement to the Japanese that he has no notion of obeying their orders and clearing his ships out of Swatow, everything is in a fog and a muddle. In England Lord Halifax is making noises to the effect that he wants Japan to understand that the British never had any intention of allowing their Tientsin concession to be used as a base for activities "prejudicial to the Japanese military interests," (though it is public knowledge that the Chamberlain Government has made loans to Chiang Kai-Shek), and going on:

"I hesitate to believe that the Government of Tokyo would wish deliberately to challenges the whole position and policy of Britain."

That is exactly what he and his master, Bumble, hesitated to believe about Lord Hitler. They know better now, or do they? It is nearly as certain that Tokyo would think a long time before challenging Britain if it knew positively that it meant trouble. But it doesn't. The whole policy of appeasement and vacillation is manifestly a failure; it is clear that the only thing the dictators in Japan respect is force backed by the quite unmistakable will to use it as necessary. But the present Government in England seems to be constitutionally unable to face that fact.

House Courage

The Boys At Least Did Not Forget The Pork Barrel

The great jubilation over the "courage" of the House in ramming through its relief bill against Administration opposition leaves us fairly cool. Some other provisions, such as the elimination of the Federal Theater, may save a little money. But it is worth observing that the President got the whole appropriation of $1,735,000 that he asked for.

Then there is that provision which earmarks $125,000,000 for "public works." Ostensibly, that is a proviso to keep all the money from being wasted at what was once called "boon-doggling." Actually, it means a lot of buildings and "projects" for the Congressmen to wangle for their own districts, to their own great gain in prestige and votes. In other words, it fills up the pork barrel.

In some ways, the bill looks to us very much like an effort of the House to palm off on the nation the notion that it is heroically devoted to economy, while at the same time getting itself a nice, fat piece of cake.

Friendly Comment

On Friendly Ben's Friendly Week For The Friendly Carolinas

How time flies. Mayor Ben Douglas's week which the Carolinas were to devote to "being more friendly to their neighbors and more neighborly to their friends," has just begun, and now it is almost over. It almost got by us, but anyhow most of our neighbors are out of town, and our friends are as hot as we are, and don't particularly crave any warm human companionship.

But don't mistake levity for sarcasm. Ben's idea is a good one. You might not think so, but that just goes to show that you are not so astute a psychologist as Ben. This "friendly city" business, for example. We rather scoffed at it in the beginning. But that is exactly how traditions begin. The label has stuck, and it is not at all unlikely that after a while the people of the city will begin, consciously and unconsciously, to live up to it, much as the old masters of the plantations daily exhibited graciousness in manner and living because they knew it was expected of them.

As much applies to the extension of the friendly idea for a whole week in the Carolinas. Maybe, this first year, it did slip by without much notice. Maybe next year it will receive only a little more attention. But if it survives for a year or so beyond that, who can say that it won't become a fixture and something of an occasion?

The Sea Law

But This Man Will Know How To Encounter It

Lieutenant Oliver F. Naquin, commander of the Squalus, is not altogether a fortunate man. So far as the evidence goes at present, there is no reason at all to believe that it was in any way his fault that the submarine was lost, with the lives of 26 men. And his men yesterday stood silent when they were challenged to lodge any complaint against his conduct before or after the accident. Earlier they had borne witness to the fact that he played his role courageously and well, while locked in the ship with Death. And he left the submarine last, after the immemorial law of the sea.

Nevertheless, he lost the ship. Through no fault of his own, apparently. But he lost her. And under the iron tradition of the sea, that means inevitably that for some time now there will be at least the shadow of a question mark after his name. In time it will be forgotten--unless it should happen again. Meantime, however, there it will be. It is hard and relentless, but the sea is hard and relentless also. And as much can be granted: he will know how to take it with his head up. The hard and relentless sea does that to men whose business is to match wits and strength with it daily.


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