The Charlotte News

Tuesday, August 8, 1939


Site Ed. Note: We include one more by Ernie Pyle, this time on understanding the American Indian and a custom followed by the Navajo, having to do with forgetting, no doubt. Or perhaps, it is just one of those things, not dissimilar to the Chinese belief that it is not proper to live anywhere in the vicinity of a graveyard, probably left over from a time prior to any form of embalming, such that graveyards, or in the Navajo instance, the abodes of the dead, could and perhaps often did cultivate strange admixtures of bacteria in the afterlife causing the living nearby sometimes to contract disease. Whatever the source of the custom, whether practical or purely spiritual, it is interesting, if not very rational.

Once, 28 years ago, we had an interesting, if not very rational, experience on an Indian reservation. The occasion, not planned, resulted in our spending the night on the Crow Reservation, out in Montana, just north of the Wyoming border, in the Bighorn Canyon. The reason we were there is that we were heading up to the Little Bighorn to see the battlefield for the first time. We thought we were taking a shortcut, shaving off about 50 miles or so, by proceeding on the diagonal rather than the square, the way less traveled, a lot less traveled, as it turned out.

We knew the map pointed the way on the diagonal only scarcely, by means of one of those faint black lines for which we now have to have a magnifying glass even to see very well at all. But then, we could see it just fine or thought so, and so hied we along our way--in our little two-seater sports car, not particularly designed for range roving, but deter us that fact did not, including the little 60 degree or so decline and, whoopsy, incline we took at one point through a dry gully wash, only about ten feet down off the level.

We won't belabor now how we eventually got stuck out there, for it's a long story and we will save it for some other day. But suffice it to say that we wound up with a burned out clutch, a night spent on the reservation--keeping watch cautiously, occasionally studying the glimmering of the lone campfire from afar up in the hills, making us to wonder whether it was now or then, as the night passed slowly on--a morning walk amid angry, earth-dusting bull stares--Toro...Andale! Go 'way--for some eight miles, breakfast of slab bacon and all the eggs we could chow down, fixed for us by a kind rancher who kept two coyotes out front for his pets; he went to town once a week for supplies, he told us; generally treated us like royalty on our four-hour stay--even tried to tow us out a piece, but couldn't without tearing up the car, we having made our fateful discovery--before around 3:00 some kind teenagers coming off work in the wilds out there gave us a lift back to the nearest town of Lovell, Wyoming, where they all lived.

We wound up staying there for a week, as we have said, for we had not only burned out the clutch, but lost the keys to the car during our sojourn in escape of the angry bulls that Monday morning.

No doubt, some archaeologist, millennia from now, studying the surrounding moraine and valley, will run across the nigh indestructible aluminum and plastic keys and wonder who might have been before and what the devil these things represent--some imprimitive tool to unlock a chest of hidden treasure buried deep in Bighorn Canyon, perhaps? The presence on them of the crest of a German family might bring them to speculate that there is within their means to open some secret cryptographic cipher containing explanation for all of humanity which lived in this ancient, darkly age in what once was called North America, now yclept Hebrides Western Regional, due to continental shifts taking place some ages back after the great ice age and thaw.

Well, anyway, after we rounded up every four-wheel drive vehicle Lovell had to offer, the kind teenagers took twelve hours to course up into the canyon--us getting them lost once as we instructed them inadvertently to take the wrong leg of a Y-turn, to which they didn't object for the two hours lost for at least it was a scenic tour of their country, them getting mudstuck in their trucks in the course, banging mightily Ford tailgates with Chevy bumpers to get them unstuck--only to find that the towing device, the dolly brought along to hoist the keyless vehicle to circumvent its locked steering column, had lost its towing ball nut. We found it out as the car was being hoisted, when suddenly it plopped flat back down to the ground, to sad and discouraged visages all round at 4:00 a.m. The young head of the expedition though just looked over with a curiously complacent grin as if to say, "What did you expect at 4:00 a.m. when you somehow managed to get a sports car this far into this terrain?"

Eventually, with another try from a middle-aged gentleman who owned the motel where we stayed the week, who told his wife we would be back in about six hours, we got the car back in twelve, at midnight Tuesday, day three.

Next day, we found, on a tip from the motel manager, that the kind folks across the street happened to be splicing together two wrecked versions of the sports car of our make--"...Where'd you get 'em?" "Oh, over in Murdo." "Myrtle. Where's that?" "Just over there not too far, in South Dakota..."--and thus had all the parts we needed, except the clutch and key, for which we had to hitchhike 50 miles in each of two triangulated directions, both along the course of the Bighorn, to obtain, after ordering a blank from the nearest locale, Denver, which arrived by bus on Thursday.

Once done fetching the key on Friday, having caught a breezy ride on a hot day in the back of a pickup, make we scant recall, driven by a nice young couple, and the clutch disk on Saturday, having caught a ride with a fellow who, while nice enough, gradually informed us in alternately Saturnalian and morose mumbles that he had just been released from jail--"Yep, beat her up pretty bad this time--sassin' me, you know"--the folks at the shop across the way let us use their tools to replace the clutch. After working through the warm Wyoming Saturday night, we washed our hands, started the car, confirmed its put, and were finally ready to go next morning, one week from when we started on our shortcut to the Little Bighorn River.

As we got ready to leave, a truck driver noticed our license tag from North Carolina and indicated he lived in Statesville, a few miles up the road from whence we hailed at the time and had come. After some friendly conversation, he offered to take back to North Carolina some mangled-by-sixty-degree-decline-and- gully-wash parts we had to remove from the car which were nevertheless still salvageable and for which we had little room--the slightly bent wheel, the dented rear skirting, the severated muffler pieces. He said we could pick them up later. So he did; but we never got back to pick them up--may still be there for all we know. But we appreciated it because it added yet another dimension to the experience, already, as we have said, enhanced a good bit over the mundane of the usual day--even including the poetic fortuity of the radio song which brought a smile that first afternoon of Monday as it came a lightning-crash gully washer turning the streets of Lovell to intermediate rivers for an hour as we rode about with one of the friendly Samaritans rounding up all the four-wheel drives in town fit to ride, the song being the one which goes, "Thunder only happens when it's rainin'..."

After our week in Lovell, where everyone was about as hospitable as any place we had then been or have ever since been on the planet, we set out for the Little Bighorn finally, via the main road this time, by the pleasant pastures abounding with lavender and yellow and pinkish wildflowers, that Sunday morning, June 26, 1977.

We got to the battlefield at around 1:00 p.m., whereupon we were told we were in luck. For we had arrived on the day of the 101st anniversary of the conclusion of the battle.

So, never question too hard the reason for things which slow you down or take you on the long course, for there at the end of the journey is usually, if one wishes to see it, anyway, a hidden treasure to be saved from all the travail.

There's more to the story, for instance when, after spending the night on the reservation, we began busily next morning trying to find some way to budge the car out of the mudhole we were in, in the vain hope that perhaps after all the clutch might yet grab a little friction and head us back to the main road by other means than foot, not knowing then whether we were within 30 miles of the nearest human, having driven for some time, seemingly hours, before getting stuck--demonstrating in that, since the distance was only about eight miles to the ranch, just how rugged the terrain was, what with, by crickety, taking fully six hours to traverse from town by four-wheel drive truck, total distance from town to car about 60 miles--that we suddenly, as we jammed a board underneath the tire to provide grip against the mud, became aware of a definite presence nearby. We caught some ever so slight hint of movement just in the fleeting peripheral, in between thoughts of just how best to jam that board against the tread so as to get the most out of it without straining what we hoped would be the remaining remnants of the lining on our clutch plate, that is, before having singed it to what was in fact shreds of burnt paste the night before trying to escape the muddy wash after dark, having run into it while hurriedly backtracking after realizing the road had completely disappeared into nowhere before our headlights, even with our youthfully sharp night vision fully in play.

Ever so startled, just after dawn, by this sudden apparitional movement coming upon us in complete silence, we looked up. There, staring us down was a perfect line of five or six Guernseys--or were they Jerseys?--anyway, brown and whites, looking as if they were very deliberately holding back incalculable laughter, as they dryly chewed their cuds. In fact, at that moment, effortlessly, they lapsed into a high-kicking chorus line, singing in unison, "I love to go a-wandering along the mountain track," segueing from there to a Martha Graham balletic movement from Petrushka, the tans being the deus ex anima mundi (but as to who was puppet and who magician, we couldn't say for certain, and probably couldn't were we to study all trine for all time). In the end, as indicated, the bound to be, judging by the relative inequity of numbers, polygamous husbands got very jealous and, with their long horns in stern array, most effectively manipulated us into the hills above the valley where we began our walk to the ranch, leaving our bemused observers below to their Cudsho.

In any event, we will reserve all of that for later telling in greater detail, as we have said.

Suffice it to say, we had an interesting and entirely, save the earth dusting bulls, hospitable time on the Crow Indian Reservation and parts nearby, the week of June 19-26, 1977, even if Custer and his men, 101 years before, didn't.

Navajo Passage

By Ernie Pyle

RED LAKE, Ariz.--We've seen hundreds of Indians in this Navajo country, and you consider it the climax of a perfect day if you can even get one to speak to you.

I don't know anything about Indians, and doubt that I ever will. Some white people down here go sort of Indian-daffy. They make a fad of the Indians: consider them utterly superior to the white man. Others dislike the Indians thoroughly. The more understanding whites respect them for their qualities of simple goodness.

As for myself I have tried, and tried hard, to get interested in Indians. It is no go. I am not what you would call anti-Indian. I'm merely non-Indian. I can't help it. It's just the way my nature runs.

So when I write about Indians it will be based only on what white people have told me.


The Navajos are the biggest tribe of Indians in America. They number now around 50,000, and are increasing all the time. They are pastoral people, constantly moving with their sheep and cattle and horses.

They do little farming: few of them are "citified"; I am told that only 5 per cent of them speak English; out of the whole Navajo race only three men have risen to prominence.

The Navajos still stick close to the beliefs and customs of old.

They do not have towns, nor permanent homes. They move several times a year, herding their flocks here and there. They build a new house, or "hogan," wherever they go. The "hogan" is a round one-roomed hut, made of logs and brush and chinked with mud.

When a Navajo dies in his house, it is never used again. The family smashes in the back of the house, and there it stands till it falls down. It is sacred and taboo.

Sometimes white men will come out and tear down the ruins, and use the logs for firewood. The Indians don't object. But they wouldn't go into a house heated by that wood.

You could go out into the desert, take some logs from a deserted hogan, and build yourself a campfire and boil some coffee. The Indians would sit in the distance and watch you, and there would be no hard feelings over your tearing down the spirit-ridden hogan.

But they would not think of getting close enough to absorb any of the heat from that fire, and they would not drink a cup of coffee boiled over it, even if they were starving.


Indians have lots of horses. People tell me a Navajo measures his wealth by the number of horses he has. Yet the Indian doesn't have any use for more than a couple of horses. The result is that the ranges are full of Navajo ponies, eating their heads off and doing nobody the slightest good.

The Government has recently started a horse-reduction program, to free the sparse ranges for the Navajos' sheep. Those who know say it is a wholly worthy program.

But the Indians don't like it. The newspapers are carrying pieces about how wonderfully the Indians are co-operating. Range riders and traders tell me that is not the truth.

Just before the program started, a horse buyer came through a certain section. He was offering $10 and $12 a head for horses. He didn't get any. The Indians wouldn't sell.

But in a few weeks they'll have to sell those same horses for $2 a head, to be made into fertilizer and dog-food. That's your Indian co-operation--and foresight.

[YOUR HELP, PLEASE--Heywood Broun, the pink walrus, returns to duty tomorrow after a two weeks vacation during which time Ernie Pyle, the smallest of the Rover Boys, has filled in for him. Now what the editors of The News would like to know of its readers is whether they prefer Broun to Pyle or Pyle to Broun.

If any considerable expression of opinion can be obtained, The News will proceed accordingly.

Thank you--Editors, The News.]

Further Note: We also include the below item, from "Mr. Billop", another regular on the editorial page, even if the offering is a little corny.

Reading it causes our tongue to swell some, from memory of the time 43 years ago when we caught a baseball with our mouth, and were then served corn on the cob that night by our well-meaning host and hostess.

We can't say we felt like a horse, exactly--at least not much more than a puny one. But that we had been kicked by a fairly stout pony is well within reach of the asymptosy of somatics, Hobbes's horseshoes and all.

We chose the corn and mild pain over having our mouth water the rest of the evening over the buttery maize.

So there you have it: Baseball, corn, Indians, horses, cows, cars, keys, bacon, clutches, Custer and the Little Bighorn, all in compact. Find the commonality in those and you probably have glimmered a special understanding of the cornucopia which is America.

But, you may ask, where are the hot dogs?

Mr. Billop:


Corn-on-the-cob is a medium for proving that, all things considered, a man is as good as a horse. In fact, a man is better, for whoever heard of a horse that can spread butter on his corn?

Corn-on-the-cob is served piping hot. This gives the eater all the sensations of trial by ordeal as his fingers sizzle while he removes that ear from the serving dish to the butter plate to let it cool.

Slow cooling on the butter dish is not only more seemly, but also it prolongs the anticipation. Most people, and particularly those who have poor digestions, find that it is much pleasanter looking forward to eating corn-on-the-cob than looking back upon having eaten it.

Butter may be applied in dabs, bite for bite, or in one long smear. The ideal sought in this operation is to be able to eat faster than the butter can run. The corn having been eaten, it is now time to prepare for the inevitable reminder that there's something sticking to your cheek. You will lose no time in removing the offending particle with a napkin. This serves to make you presentable for the moment; but after eating corn-on-the-cob, you will not feel altogether comfortable until you have retired upstairs and taken a bath.


A Natural

Is Charlotte As A Site For University's "Med School"

The transference of Wake Forest College's Medical School to Winston-Salem is due to several reasons.

1) Two-year schools such as that at Wake Forest, are in disfavor with medical authorities and the four-year school which Wake Forest will establish at Winston requires--

2) Hospital and clinical facilities providing patients numerous and accommodating enough to have the variety of diseases and the elements essential to the complete construction of the embryo medicoes, which Winston-Salem offers and--

3) The North Carolina Baptist Hospital, denominationally the same as Wake Forest.

However, there is another two-year medical school in the state which, having seen the handwriting on the wall, will almost certainly establish a four-year school. That is the medical department of the University.

Chapel Hill, on account both of its limited size and its adjacence to Durham, where huge Duke Hospital is, cannot qualify. Whereas Charlotte, the city of metropolitan hospitals new and modern in every last particular, with the populous community and surrounding country to supply patients without limit enjoying every disability of the catalogue, and location nicely counterbalancing in the west-central part of the state Duke Hospital; in the east-central part of the state, vying for the eminence of its medical men and the thoroughness of its nursing schools--

Ah, yes: Charlotte is a natural for the four-year medical school of the University of North Carolina, and the sooner they get together, the better it will be all around.

Site Ed. Note: The medical school at Wake Forest, transposed to Winston-Salem, would be a pre-indicant to the movement of the whole college there in 1954. The University medical school would remain in Chapel Hill and grow to enormous facility, despite the surrounding town itself remaining astonishingly and pleasantly compact, much the same as it was in 1939. Just where then do they get all their patients at U.N.C.? Well, watch a Carolina-Duke basketball game sometime and you will understand immediately why each campus needs a primary medical center for research into both the physical and psychological aspects of medical science--and why these facilities have plenty of subjects upon which to make plentiful study and advances in the fields.

In Winston-Salem, by contrast, we have long suspected that it's the air.

It's Wonderful

Labor Takes Ballots Instead Of Bombs, With Reservations

Make a note of this--that the act by Mr. Wagner which was "to diminish the causes of labor dispute burdening or obstructing interstate" commerce has finally, after four years, actually diminished the cause of a labor dispute.

It happened in Detroit, city which never knew until the Wagner Act came along what industrial-labor warfare could be. It happened at last that two bitterly contending labor organizations, instead of resorting to a strike, consented to an election.

And consented is the word, for you may search the Wagner Act from stem to stern and you will find no compulsion of any sort upon labor unions. Not even to obey the orders of the National Labor Relations Board. Only the rights of employees are listed to offset the catalogue of wrongs which employers are warned not to commit.

At the Packard plant in Detroit, however, UAW-AFL consented to an NLRB election wanted by the numerically superior UAW-CIO. Which would mark a new chapter in labor relations were it not further explained that the reason UAW-AFL consents--it already has a contract with Packard, is suing in the courts to validate its claim to the UAW name and authority, and has obtained as a condition to the election NLRB's promise to let the court decision have the right-of-way over the result of the balloting.

Site Ed. Note: Admiral Leahy would with President Truman meet with King George VI, and other British dignitaries aboard the Renown at Harrowbeer, near Plymouth, England on August 2, 1945, to discuss the plans to drop the first atomic bombs on Japan. Among the group, only Leahy expressed doubt as to whether the weapon would work as anticipated. "It sounds like a professor's dream to me," said he. Whether deterrent dream or ultimately destructive nightmare, history has yet fully to record. We shall see, or not.

Not By Spirit

But By These Cross Things Will This Be Settled

Commenting on Admiral Leahy's final annual report as United States Chief of Naval Operations, a Japanese spokesman says, according to the Associated Press, that "despite an inferiority in tonnage, the Japanese Navy is relying on the 'Japanese spirit' to defeat any navy or combination of navies in the world."

If so, then it may be said at once that the little man is deluding himself. There is nothing, so far as we know, to be said against "the Japanese spirit." It did, indeed, show up to advantage in the Russo-Japanese war. And we have no intention of indulging in heroics about "The American spirit" or "the British spirit" or what have you. There is nothing wrong with the spirit of these, either. But the candid fact is that mere spirit on nobody's part will win the naval contest if it comes.

What will win it will be (1) the brains and skill of the commanders in maneuvering for position, and (2) and probably more important, the skill of the gunners in hitting their targets. If the Japanese have enough brains and enough gunner skill to overbalance superior tonnage which they assume will be arrayed against them, then they will win as a matter of mathematical certainty. If they haven't, then not all the "spirit" in the world can keep their ships from being sunk and their crews from drowning in the seas. Neither laws of trajectory nor old Davey Jones have the slightest respect for mere "spirit."


For Britain Primarily, But It Concerns Us, Too

Every time Britain moves these days, the screws are probably applied to her from all sides. The bombing of the British steamers on the Yangtse was even more clearly deliberate than was the bombing of the Panay, and undoubtedly represented the Japanese answer to Neville Chamberlain's threat to send a British battle fleet into Asiatic waters. But just as soon as this happens, the Germans also began acting up--yelling that the "challenges" of Poland are becoming intolerable and that the latter may "suddenly make an acquaintance with German weapons."

That leaves England in a quandary. If she dispatches to Singapore a fleet big enough to smack Japan down, she dangerously weakens herself to resist a German move. But if she allows Japan to get away with this she may as well begin to prepare to be taken ignominiously out of China.

The case also again poses a question for us: Are we willing to be booted out of China in our turn or do we mean to fight it out? If the former, then the sensible thing to do is to beat Japan to the draw, to get out before she has time to make it appear that we were hustled out, and so save our face as much as possible. If the latter, then it is silly to wait until the British have first been disposed of. One way or the other, we need decide upon our course promptly.

Site Ed. Note: The article below mentioned, Cash being Cash, is here.

The Connally Hot Oil Act, to which the editorial refers, was an act sponsored by Texas Senator Tom Connally which enabled control of oil production by the Texas Railroad Commission, effectively limiting production and squeezing out wildcat independent producers from the market, allowing oil prices to remain high. As a result, Connally shifted from being a pro-New Deal Democrat, opposed to restrictions on oil production, to being opposed to Roosevelt on most domestic issues, including the Texas oil issue. In 1935, he led a filibuster of Southern Senators opposed to the Wagner anti-lynching bill and helped to defeat it. Connally did, however, support the Roosevelt Administration on foreign policy issues. Tom Connally served in the Senate through 1952 and died on October 28, 1963.


Concerning The Laurels Of Three Warm Friends

Up at the top of the page over to the far right, you will find under the caption of "Horatio Alger In Boodle Land," an article by Mr. Cash in which the honors that have come to great and not so good men are recounted, the two being the Hon. Richard Leche, until lately Governor in the satrapy which is ruled by the manes of Huey Long, and the Hon. Seymour Weiss, who climbed up to fame and fortune and a Federal indictment for common theft by his own virtues and the aid of Huey in the flesh and the spirit.

But in the interval between writing and going to press, new honors have come to this notable pair. Mr. Leche's own career has been crowned by the attentions of a Federal Grand Jury, which has returned an indictment against him for conspiring and accepting a bribe of 67 grand to aid in violating the Connally hot oil act. And Mr. Weiss is so weighted down with glory that he now has a second indictment hitched to him on the same charge. Truly, Louisiana is the modern land of opportunity for poor and aspiring young men.

Lloyd Withers*

If one characteristic had to be named which more than any other typified Lloyd Withers, who died Sunday night, it would be gentleness. Gentleness, that is, which is born of courage and kindliness and nurtured by understanding.

For all those qualities Lloyd Withers had. They stood him in good stead during a long and severely painful illness from which he was only beginning to recover when he was stricken. It was a sort of supreme trial of the man's character and personality, and it was to his credit that he stood the ordeal with good cheer and good faith undaunted.

And it is all the sadder, this gentle man's death, by reason of his having won this brush with tragedy.

Fortitude he had, and cheerfulness unimpaired, and the character to endure whatever lay before.

And though it is not given us to understand the ways of the inscrutable, we must be certain, if there is any certainty, that what enriches life enriches death. And at the least enriches memory.


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