The Charlotte News

Thursday, December 28, 1939


Site Ed. Note: The only remark we offer on "Penelope" is that when we were little tykes, the name had fallen into such disuse that, we confess, we pronounced it, sublingually, as antelope; and for those not familiar with either pronunciation, the first is not as cantaloupe, or develop, but rather as Penelopy, which is not to say win-a-trophy, but more at phrenology (subtracting the first "o" and substituting "eh" for it)--yet not monopoly--which practices fortunately had been long abandoned as betraying significance of intelligence by the time we were little tykes. Else, we might have been bumped.

We include the following two fillers, substituting for the column space which had been usually occupied by Heywood Broun, as both of them were obviously by Cash.

The Governor referenced, incidentally, is not to be confused with Willie, the fictional character of fame, based in reality of course on Huey Hilmaus Wilver Silver, the politician who probably influenced American politics more than any other during the twentieth century, though his greatest impact was between the years 1918 and 1991. He is no longer living of course, his death date being somewhat uncertain, some say the result of a hail of bullets back in 1935 fired at him amid the echoing marble of the state skyscraper he built, by a disgruntled physician whose father-in-law had been abused by him politically, others contending that he died quietly in a Manhattan hospital just a few years ago in yet another episode full of the episodic coincidences which beset his political career and ultimately identified him in the general conscience as a crook, nevertheless one who, for his appeal to many of the common men of his time, was beloved and cherished by many as a man's man and public benefactor. Indeed, a plaque beneath the statue of one of his several likenesses, located at the state skyscraper, informs the visitor that Wilver Silver claimed no heritage of erudition or eloquence, only scrap fit for the fight. Others say he went to law school and graduated third in his class. Still others say he may have been secretly a dope fiend. Similarly controversial is the man's family history, some contending he grew up in an orange grove in California, others providing evidence that he was a poor boy from Louisiana, while still others suggesting by inferences derived from the results that he was raised by wolves in some other state. A man clearly with a checkered past and an unsettled fate as yet in the American Domesday Book.

It was revealed recently that President Shinyweather, in interviews some years back, referred to Silver as the "biggest, yet most decisive and therefore somehow indefatigably appealing, crook ever to hit the American political landscape--which is why I gave Wilver a full pardon for all of his sins during my first months in office, though the man himself stood for things I find detestable in hindsight. His grasp of foreign policy outweighed, however, in my mind his otherwise despicable character flaws generally--and, most of all, I considered him my friend." Clearly Hilmaus had many friends of influence and, some say and suspect, may have possessed some nearly unholy Rasputinesque ability to influence some honest people, despite his vacillating temperament ranging between Goebbelsesque dourness and a sort of quasi understudy to Bogartine-Rogersesque comic affability, such that he could bend and manipulate his listeners to do whatever he willed of them. But that is only speculation.

Regardless, the Governor referenced below, only part of which piece we reprint, was not him.

Governor Stark

(Note: Missouri Governor Lloyd Stark's Secretary advises us that he has many inquiries about the career of the Governor, who has been mentioned as a possible Presidential candidate. So we pass his record along to our little readers for their information.--Editors, The News.)

Born: Nov. 23, 1886, Louisiana, Mo. Married: Nov. 11, 1908 to Margaret Pearson Stickney of Baltimore, Md. Two sons of this union; [etc.]...


Balanced State Budget. Led fight responsible for breaking up of Pendergast political machine of Kansas City; most strongly entrenched machine in United States. As a result of drive, broke up narcotic, slot machine, gambling and white slave and vote fraud rings, and led to imprisonment of machine leaders.

Help Pick A Writer

The sudden death of old standby Heywood Broun has made it necessary for the editors of The News to find a columnist to take Broun's place alongside of General Johnson, the omniscient, and Raymond Clapper, the good reporter. Plenty of them are available, a few of the better ones already under our option. But the difficulty lies in selecting the one that will best team up with Johnson and Clapper and suit the tastes of readers of The News.

There is La Dorothy Thompson, who we killed out once because she always wrote at white heat. Dorothy works on a three-times-a-week schedule, which would be all right for our needs if Dorothy can stand it.

There is the playful FPA, sometimes good, sometimes dull, together with a couple of leftish playmates on the leftish New York Post: Samuel ("I'd Rather Be Right") Grafton and Ernest L. ("As the Crow Flies") Grafton [sic: Meyers].

There is Ernie Pyle, not unknown to readers of The News by reason of a few columns we reprinted last summer, a homely little shrimp of a Hoosier who wanders over the face of the country writing essays and character sketches and sometimes doing first-rate reporting, as in his candid review of Sally Rand's (D)Nude Ranch, at the California Exposition.

There is Paul Mallon (News Behind The News), a Washington column which we consider vastly inferior to Washington Merry-Go-Round.

And we probably could get Boake Carter, but we hope we won't have to.

There is Leonard Lyons, who does a Broadway column patterned after Winchell's and about as insane, and the AP Feature Service has a chap named Tucker. We've sent for samples of his work.

There may be others, and if their names are suggested to us, we shall investigate them.

Over the next couple of weeks we are going to sift these stacks of compositions which are being sent to us and reprint the choicer selections. And what we want the little reader to do is to let us know, either by letter, post card or phone, what they think of the various candidates for Broun's place, whether the opinion is favorable, unfavorable or indifferent.

If they will, we'll be most happily obliged. [Last two sentences indiscernible]


The Machines Come Back To Power In Two Cities

Boss Pendergast may be ill and imprisoned, his personal power busted. But the machine he built to rule Kansas City is far from dead. Yesterday it came back from what many people had supposed to be oblivion, took charge of appointments in the city service, named a city attorney--probably the most crucial job in the municipal set-up--and got the resignation of Mayor Bryce B. Smith, who knows defeat when he sees it.

And in New York, for all the fact that Tammany was supposed to have been thoroughly slain when LaGuardia marched into office with the aid of the New Deal, it is once more back in control of the city--subject only to the lightning tactics and the fierce blows of a Mayor who doesn't know defeat when he sees it.

There is nothing new in this. These machines always come back--have always come back, at least--save in cases where they were destroyed by bigger and worse machines.

And the reason is not far to seek. In a word it is boodle--a term which includes patronage. Boodle for the rich contractors, who want a chance to chisel on the specifications laid down for them, to sell a city streets of sand or waterworks of scrap iron for exorbitant rates, or who merely want the inside track on the business. Boodle for all sorts of people who want to sell the city something at a fancy price. Boodle and protection for racketeers and white slavers. And boodle for the little boys. A sort of minnikin importance and a certain amount of money for shabby little men who hang around pool rooms and bawdy houses and who do not like to work. Boodle for those who feel that their jobs do not adequately reward their pocketbooks or their sense of importance. And through these and the big shots built up out of their mass, jobs for the boys who vote regularly, and for their kin. The machine takes care of its own.

In sum, the machinery returns because of a great horde of men, high and low, whose cupidity is greater than their understanding or their patriotism--who systematically prefer their own small interest to the pressing interest of the society to which they belong. It is the greatest curse of decent government among us, and so far it has been entirely incurable.

Site Ed. Note: For more on Cash's candor on boodle, if, that is, you think you need any more, candor that is, see "Horatio Alger in Boodle Land", from August 8, 1939.

Incidentally, though we don't have the original piece immediately at hand, wethinks Mr. Weiss was in trouble over "swag" rather than "slag"; we suspect it got by us because of the bleases abounding that night.


Now Even She Is Charged With Being A Fraud

Soon there will be nothing left. Years ago Ellen Glasgow and Mr. Cabell were already poking fun at the Confederate belle and telling scandalous tales on her, though we all knew that she was so cold and high and white that the snows melted when she moved among us. That was why there were few critics of Dixie. And Margaret Mitchell, though she is accused of sugarcoating the South, did little, to put it mildly, to remedy her (the belle's) reputation.

Now it is Penelope. She whom [indiscernible words], home from the long, long voyage [indiscernible word] ten years of wandering through the wine-dark sea and its snares, found still awaiting him, cold and white and pure, though the suitors swarmed at her door and even into her boudoir. The antithesis in Greek stories of Clytemnestra, the easy and shameless one who wearied so soon of the vigil from the housetops in Argos town. The very sign manual, through the ages, of wifely devotion and austere and unshakable virtue. A heroine of the Puritans and the Victorians.

Now, however, comes Prof. Walter Allen Jr., of Princeton, to tell the American Philological Association, in [indiscernible word] at Ann Arbor, Mich., that it was all false. Not only from that celebrated scene on the vase dug up years ago from an old Greek parlor--a scene which does seem a little compromising--but also from the philological evidence, it is plain, he says, that Penelope was definitely a sort of early Scarlett O'Hara with overtones of Helen of Troy. Merely, old Homer, who was an old-fashioned writer--a sort of early Thomas Nelson Page--[indiscernible words] to whitewash [indiscernible words].

It is just as well that that old custom of naming little girls (for whom a particularly virginal career was hoped) Penelope has about died out. But it may embarrass your Aunt Penelope if she is, unmercifully, still in the land of the living.

A Dividing Line

Senator Burke Overlooks One Greatly Important Point

Senator Burke of Nebraska disagrees with his colleague, Senator George W. Norris, that the Democratic Presidential candidate for 1940 "must be a liberal."

"There is no merit in this general discussion about liberals and conservatives. We must first define terms. It's my honest belief that someone who might popularly be called a 'conservative' could do the best job of making effective the vital part of the Roosevelt program."

The Senator could make out a pretty case for that view on the basis of the historical record. Disraeli, the Tory, was actually more effectively liberal in practice than Gladstone, the Whig. Bryan, the liberal of the 'Nineties, could never get himself elected President because the people mistrusted his discretion, but nearly all the things he advocated were put into practice between the more conservative administrations of Mr. Taft and Mr. Wilson.

And what was called wild-eyed radicalism in Theodore Roosevelt got to be accepted as mild conservatism before the Taft reign was over. Liberals have usually not fared too well as administrators, perhaps because of their inclination to carry out experiment for mere experiment's sake.

Nevertheless, Senator Burke overlooks something. What is plainly needed is somebody whose good will and intelligence are such as to command the confidence of the people as a whole. And the present use of the liberal and conservative labels probably reflects doubt on these scores rather than anything else.

The liberals suspect men like Vandenberg and Garner with giving only lip service to the New Deal objectives, with meaning to destroy the whole if and when they get the chance. And conservatives suspect Mr. Roosevelt and the liberals who follow in his wake with intending to go right ahead with experiment in spending until we land in flat state socialism. That is the fundamental line of division between the two sides, and nobody has yet appeared who seems likely to cure it.

Great Soldier

Mr. Hitler Gestures But Not Very Convincingly

The story that Mr. Hitler walked across the French border on Christmas day may be a fabrication out of the whole cloth. But if it is true, it doesn't matter. The "First Soldier of the Reich" still remains a completely inauthentic military hero. All that is even claimed for him is that he crossed over in the company of several of his aides, and that the French either didn't see them at all or ignored them as small fry too unimportant to be destroyed at Christmas.

A great soldier would have done it differently; certainly, every great soldier under the heroic tradition which Adolf affects as his own would have made it dramatically clear to the enemy as to precisely who was in front of them. At Crecy and Poitiers the French knights thundered to death before the deadly rain of the English crossbowmen, every man bearing his shield and banner so that all might know who he was. Henry of Navarre's white plume marked him on every battlefield of his career. Charles XII and Wallenstein went into battle in the lordliest uniforms of their company. Old Bonaparte deliberately cultivated his cocked hat and white horse so that nobody should have any doubt as to what man went there.

Perhaps it is a little silly the whole great soldier tradition, when you think about it. Nevertheless, to find a man who calls himself "The First Soldier of the Reich" boasting of this exploit is as though Washington had sneaked out of Valley Forge in disguise as a common soldier and had come back to boast of having safely set his foot in a street in New York.

Shucks! All the chances taken by this great hero in this war have also been taken by old Mr. Chamberlain, umbrella and all.

And Odysseus of many counsels answered her and said:

"O wife revered of Odysseus, son of Laertes, wilt thou never have done asking me about mine own race? Nay, but I will tell thee: yet surely thou wilt give me over to sorrows yet more than those wherein I am holden, for so it ever is when a man has been afar from his own country, so long as now I am, wandering in sore pain to many cities of mortals. Yet even so I will tell thee what thou askest and inquirest. There is a land called Crete in the midst of the wine-dark sea, a fair land and a rich, begirt with water, and therein are many men innumerable, and ninety cities. And all have not the same speech, but there is confusion of tongues; there dwell Achaeans and there too Cretans of Crete, high of heart, and Cydonians there and Dorians of waving plumes and goodly Pelasgians. And among these cities is the mighty city Cnosus, wherein Minos when he was nine years old began to rule, he who held converse with great Zeus, and was the father of my father, even of Deucalion, high of heart. Now Deucalion begat me and Idomeneus the prince. Howbeit, he had gone in his beaked ships up into Ilios, with the sons of Atreus; but my famed name is Aethon, being the younger of the twain and he was the first born and the better man. There I saw Odysseus, and gave him guest-gifts, for the might of the wind bare him too to Crete, as he was making for Troy land, and had driven him wandering past Malea. So he stayed his ships in Amnisus, whereby is the cave of Eilithyia, in havens hard to win, and scarce he escaped the tempest. Anon he came up to the city and asked for Idomeneus, saying that he was his friend and held by him in love and honour. But it was now the tenth or the eleventh dawn since Idomeneus had gone in his beaked ships up into Ilios. Then I led him to the house, and gave him good entertainment with all loving-kindness out of the plenty in my house, and for him and for the rest of his company, that went with him, I gathered and gave barley meal and dark wine out of the public store, and oxen to sacrifice to his heart's desire. There the goodly Achaeans abode twelve days, for the strong North Wind penned them there, and suffered them not to stay upon the coast, for some angry god had roused it. On the thirteenth day the wind fell, and then they lifted anchor."

So he told many a false tale in the likeness of truth, and her tears flowed as she listened, and her flesh melted. And even as the snow melts in the high places of the hills, the snow that the South-East wind has thawed, when the West has scattered it abroad, and as it wastes the river streams run full, even so her fair cheeks melted beneath her tears, as she wept her own lord, who even then was sitting by her. Now Odysseus had compassion of heart upon his wife in her lamenting, but his eyes kept steadfast between his eyelids as it were horn or iron, and craftily he hid his tears. But she, when she had taken her fill of tearful lamentation, answered him in turn and spake, saying:

"Friend as thou art, even now I think to make trial of thee, and learn whether in very truth thou didst entertain my lord there in thy halls with his godlike company, as thou sayest. Tell me what manner of raiment he was clothed in about his body, and what manner of man he was himself, and tell me of his fellows that went with him."

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered her saying: "Lady, it is hard for one so long parted from him to tell thee all this, for it is now the twentieth year since he went thither and left my country. Yet even so I will tell thee as I see him in spirit. Goodly Odysseus wore a thick purple mantle, twofold, which had a brooch fashioned in gold, with two sheathes for the pins, and on the face of it was a curious device: a hound in his forepaws held a dappled fawn and gazed on it as it writhed. And all men marvelled at the workmanship, how, wrought as they were in gold, the hound was gazing on the fawn and strangling it, and the fawn was writhing with his feet and striving to flee. Moreover, I marked the shining doublet about his body, like the gleam over the skin of a dried onion, so smooth it was, and glistering as the sun; truly many women looked thereon and wondered. Yet another thing will I tell thee, and do thou ponder it in thy heart. I know not if Odysseus was thus clothed upon at home, or if one of his fellows gave him the raiment as he went on board the swift ship, or even it may be some stranger, seeing that to many men was Odysseus dear, for few of the Achaeans were his peers. I, too, gave him a sword of bronze, and a fair purple mantle with double fold, and a tasseled doublet, and I sent him away with all honour on his decked ship. Moreover, a henchman bare him company, somewhat older than he, and I will tell thee of him too, what manner of man he was. He was round-shouldered, black-skinned, and curly-headed, his name Eurybates; and Odysseus honoured him above all his company, because in all things he was like-minded with himself."

So he spake, and in her heart he stirred yet more the desire of weeping, as she knew the certain tokens that Odysseus showed her. So when she had taken her fill of tearful lament, then she answered him, and spake saying:

"Now verily, stranger, thou that even before wert held in pity, shalt be dear and honourable in my halls, for it was I who gave him these garments, as judging from thy words, and folded them myself, and brought them from the chamber, and added besides the shining brooch to be his jewel. But him I shall never welcome back, returned home to his own dear country. Wherefore with an evil fate it was that Odysseus went hence in the hollow ship to see that evil Ilios, never to be named."

And Odysseus of many counsels answered her saying: "Wife revered of Odysseus, son of Laertes, destroy not now thy fair flesh any more, nor waste thy heart with weeping for thy lord;--not that I count it any blame in thee, for many a woman weeps that has lost her wedded lord, to whom she has borne children in her love,--albeit a far other man than Odysseus, who, they say, is like the gods. Nay, cease from thy lamenting, and lay up my word in thy heart; for I will tell thee without fail, and will hide nought, how but lately I heard tell of the return of Odysseus, that he is nigh at hand, and yet alive in the fat land of the men of Thesprotia, and is bringing with him many choice treasures, as he begs through the land. But he has lost his dear companions and his hollow ship on the wine-dark sea, on his way from the isle Thrinacia: for Zeus and Helios had a grudge against him, because his company had slain the kine of Helios. They for their part all perished in the wash of the sea, but the wave cast him on the keel of the ship out upon the coast, on the land of the Phaeacians that are near of kin to the gods, and they did him all honour heartily as unto a god, and gave him many gifts, and themselves would fain have sent him scathless home. Yea and Odysseus would have been here long since, but he thought it more profitable to gather wealth, as he journeyed over wide lands; so truly is Odysseus skilled in gainful arts above all men upon earth, nor may any mortal men contend with him. So Pheidon king of the Thesprotians told me. Moreover he sware, in mine own presence, as he poured the drink-offering in his house, that the ship was drawn down to the sea and his company were ready, who were to convey him to his own dear country. But me he first sent off, for it chanced that a ship of the Thesprotians was on her way to Dulichium, a land rich in grain. And he showed me all the wealth that Odysseus had gathered, yea it would suffice for his children after him, even to the tenth generation, so great were the treasures he had stored in the chambers of the king. As for him he had gone, he said, to Dodona to hear the counsel of Zeus, from the high leafy oak tree of the god, how he should return to his own dear country, having now been long afar, whether openly or by stealth.

"In this wise, as I tell thee, he is safe and will come shortly, and very near he is and will not much longer be far from his friends and his own country; yet withal I will give thee my oath on it. Zeus be my witness first, of gods the highest and best, and the hearth of noble Odysseus whereunto I am come, that all these things shall surely be accomplished even as I tell thee. In this same year Odysseus shall come hither, as the old moon wanes and the new is born."

The "wine-dark sea", as used repeatedly in The Odyssey, and as used repeatedly in reference to it by Cash, is a curious metaphor, as we ourselves have never seen, precisely, except perhaps upon the night of the blood-red moon, a wine-dark sea. But upon the notion of the wars and travails in which Odysseus ultimately found himself, together with his crew, it is not beyond the conception of surfeit that it appeared so to him, so with the bloody shadow within it.

Most assuredly it did, however, by war's end, by both day and night, to the men who served on and survived the final cruise of the Indianapolis.

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