The Charlotte News

Thursday, August 17, 1939


Site Ed. Note: "Prophet's Luck" provides a better prediction than did Congressman Fish, but both were close enough, fifteen rather three days.

Liquid Fire

Maybe Council Will Act Now That Authority Speaks

To The News it is particularly pleasing to observe that the Grand Jury and Judge Don Phillips yesterday took cognizance of the oil truck menace, and urged both municipal officials in general and those of Charlotte in particular to enact ordinances requiring them to avoid all congested streets in city areas.

The last four or five years, we have hammered on the theme almost incessantly. But nothing ever seemed to come of it. Sometimes, the matter would be vaguely broached in City Council or Fire Chief Palmer would view with alarm, but that was as far as it ever got.

Last Spring when one of the things smashed into the abuttments of an underpass at Fayetteville, took fire, sent flaming flood pouring through the streets, burned several people to death and caused large property damage--that time, we thought, something would be done. But it wasn't. Not even Fayetteville itself has yet enacted an ordinance.

Such laxness is inexplicable. About the right of these trucks to use even the main public highways, there is very grave doubt. Gasoline is so inflammable, and these trucks travel so rapidly, that it is a question if the transportation of the stuff ought not to be entirely confined to railroads, save for short hauls in small quantities under strict regulation. But at least, when it comes to the congested streets of cities, there is no question at all.

No one has the right to menace the life of crowds of human beings, huge properties, as these trucks do daily. We trust the City Council, having had the reasonable course pointed out to it by authority, will hesitate no longer but hasten to act the suggested ordinance.

Noise Fiends

They Not Only Tolerate But Seem To Dote On It

Louis Graves, editor of The Chapel Hill Weekly, is exercised about inconsiderate horn honkers, radio fiends, and other makers of unnecessary noise in the University town. And to point his demand for an ordinance against it, he looks to the Charlotte law as a model--a law which not only prohibits unnecessary horn blowing but also the making of any loud noise--as by radio--calculated to disturb the neighbors.

Editor Graves is a canny man, and so goes on to suspect that the law probably isn't enforced in Charlotte. And in that, of course, he is right. The law is even more laxly enforced in our town than that against murder, which is to say that it isn't enforced in all. Automobiles stand in long lines at street intersections, their horns honking incessantly. And most apartment houses in the town sound like a nut hatch inhabited purely by radios. And so do many areas where houses are packed closely together. But the cops never did anything about it.

But we have called Editor Graves a canny man. And so by ordinary he is. However, in the end he weakens a little in this case and goes on to think that public opinion is beginning to react against the thing and to demand that it stop. But, having ourselves once waged a long anti-noise campaign in these parts we somehow doubt it. On the contrary, the longer we look at it, the more convinced we become that the average person is not only apathetic toward noise but actually likes it. Else how to explain the load as swing "music"?

Pioneer Stuff

In Which Wendell Willkie Plays The Role Of Redskin

Mr. Wendell Willkie is quite right--and might as well be whistling Kathleen Mavourneen in a hurricane.

What the Government has done in Tennessee, acting through the Tennessee Valley Authority--an ingenious device for enjoying the powers of eminent domain without any of its responsibilities--is to hold a gun to the heads of competing power companies. Not, you understand, that the Government actually knocked the private companies down and ran off with the boodle.

No, there was a deal: a regular legitimate deal, with checks passing and everything. And Mr. Wendell Willkie signed his name on the dotted line.

But the deal and the terms were TVA's, dictated under threat of competition that no private corporation can stand--the competition of the United States Government, from which all fiscal blessings flow. And Mr. Wendell Willkie accepted these terms because he knew he had to, meanwhile raising his voice in lamentation which were borne off on the winds and oddly blended with the echoes of these words:

"This in a true sense is a return to the spirit and vision of the pioneer. If we are successful here we can march on step by step, in a like development of other great natural territorial units within our borders"--Franklin D. Roosevelt in his message to Congress on Muscle Shoals, April 10, 1933.

Prophet's Luck

The Odds For And Against The Hon. Hamilton Fish

The fact that Ham Fish prophesies European war within three days ought to be the best guarantee that there won't be one, save for the fact that under the law of probability he is bound to be right some time in his life. And this may be his turn--not necessarily within three days, but soon.

The three days, indeed, may be a very bad guess. For the German kept press has just begun to scream as it did before Munich. And it has been Hitler's usual tactics to keep that sort of thing up for several weeks before striking, to the end of exacerbating the world's nerves into acquiescence. On the other hand, Adolf Hitler is a great sentimentalist--so far as Adolf Hitler is concerned. And he undoubtedly would like to gain a new triumph immediately to celebrate the anniversary of his enlistment in the Austrian army.

But if he means what he apparently means, then one thing is perfectly certain: England and France face the choice of a new and far worse Munich, or war. The dispatches from Germany say that he is not only insistent on grabbing Danzig, but that the "settlement" must also include that strip across the Polish Corridor to connect East Prussia with Germany proper.

The last, incidentally, is a complete reductio ad absurdum of the claim that Danzig must come back to Germany because it is inhabited by Germans--amounts to demand for the right to play both ends against the middle. For the Corridor strip is overwhelmingly inhabited by Poles. The only way you can justify that is to say the Germans are entitled to different treatment from Poles--which, in fact, is what the Nazis do say, most arrogantly and cooly.

What these demands come to, in the first place, is the demand that Germany shall be given complete command of all Poland's outlets to the Baltic--to the demand, in short, that Poland shall be placed absolutely in the Nazi power. And that demand in turn adds up to the complete destruction of the Franco-British Eastern front.

If Poland is betrayed and falls into the Nazi jaws, all the little nations of the Balkans, and probably Turkey, besides, will almost certainly hasten to pull out of the worthless treaties with Britain and make what terms they may with the master of Europe. England will have to retire from Continent politics altogether. And France will in the end have to become a mere satellite of the German colossus.

It is possible, of course, that Hitler still doesn't mean it. An Associated Press dispatch from Rome yesterday said flatly that Mussolini does not expect war, is going right ahead with his plans to entertain Franco about September 28. And quoted "a most reliable source" in fact that "what really took place" in Salzburg last weekend was that Von Ribbentrop categorically assured Ciano that Hitler had no intention of letting war start over Danzig and expected to reach agreement over the Free City by "compromise." But that itself may indicate simply that the two dictators are confident that Chamberlain will surrender in the showdown. And despite the terrible losses to Britain involved, he may actually do it.


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