The Charlotte News

Saturday, December 9, 1939


Site Ed. Note: We doubt that Mr. Broun had in mind precisely his little short story on the chimera which is fear, as exemplified in the fine art of dragon-slaying via secret word, (whisper it softly: Shilputtygastermothpulanthropymisargomanglerfirthbigoshandietiotiotinx), which, when realized as a mere artifice of the mind--well, we shall let you read its twisted fate for yourself--, when he referred below to Mayor La Guardia as such in his apparent gum-shoe crackdown on that eponymously stuck to it. Nevertheless, we always like a good excuse to refer you out to some other situate wherein you may find something blissful on which to masticate, or eschew as you prefer, and thereby fulfill our responsibility of the day to belles-lettres.

That done, we are going to scrape us up some from the bedpost and then smoke a cigar, blowing the smoke and spitting the wad generally in the direction of the Doc's face. He can have the last laugh, of course, as he glowers down at us, himself emaciated, wrinkled, and muttering something to the effect, "Where did the time go? For to no one but wretched followers of intemperance shall death be certain. For them the world owes not a lick but contempt. Now, who the hell stole my watercress sandwich? Rotten buggers."

But, we shall rise briefly then to protest: "Don't be cruel, Doc. Thank ye, thank ye very much."

"Questionnaire" struck out; "Invasion" nearly came about.

And there's McNutt again. President McNutt.

Not surprising that the answers were all wrong, given the alternatives.

Fiorello Weasels

By Heywood Broun

Fiorello La Guardia seldom pussyfoots, but it does not seem to me that he has shot the wad in his gallant campaign against abandoned gum. The inveterate chewer who discards his cud in public places, as if he were tossing aside a withered violet or an old love, cannot be cajoled. And if I may switch the gender there is nothing to be gained from her by a logical or a kind approach.

The Little Flower has been in other fights for civic betterment and some of them were equally momentous. At his furious best Fiorello has scorned argumentation and has crammed his policies down the throat of each recalcitrant. This he must do again as he rides out to slay the dragon with the wagging jaw. And at the very beginning there is need for broadening the base of the campaign.


It will not be enough merely to indict those who do not retain. A girl may chew and chew with complete fidelity to the original package and still be listed as a public enemy. Specifically, I call upon His Honor not only to castigate those whose carelessness glues the casual traveler to park benches but also to express his moral indignation against those who smack their gum while watching love scenes in motion picture palaces.

The transition from the silent days to the talkies has largely spared us those who read the captions aloud, but these disturbers of dramatic traffic have been replaced by a vast army who sound-range and punctuate each film story by making a clicking noise with their favorite flavor whenever danger threatens the heroine or romance flies in through the window. These noises constitute a kind of Morse code.


Only the other day I sat in a neighborhood house beside an otherwise attractive young person who practically orchestrated the entire eight reels by her oral manipulation of the pepsin. In one particularly exciting scene the G-men in a commandeered car were pursuing the bank robbers. The pace of the chase grew faster and faster, and a young lady, after the manner of a stroker in a Harvard shell, met each challenge by accelerating the beat. She may not have been in tune with the infinite, but each time the G-men stepped on the gas she made sympathetic and synchronized noises. Before the big crash she was chewing at a flat rate of 135 miles an hour. A shot from the automatic of the hero rang out and the bandit chieftain bit the dust.

The rest, to my surprise, was silence. I thought my little friend had been frozen into silence by the grand specter of death in the afternoon. My interpretation was not correct. In a somewhat muffled whisper to her companion the young person said, "I swallowed my gum."

In the presence of true art she had paid the greatest tribute within her capacity. I trust that Mr. Cagney will hear about it.


Not for words would I have anybody put me down as an enemy of gum. It has done much to promote amity in millions of American families. In fact, as Eddie Guest almost said, "It takes a heap of chewing to make a house a home."

The head of the house sits in front of the fire. And his good, or pretty good wife is nearby, knitting him a sweater. A cricket chirps on the hearth. The click of the needles, the friendly noises of the insect and a snapping of the gum all combine into a symphony of contentment. As long as the flavor lasts she will not interrupt him in the middle of his favorite column to ask if he remembered to post the letters.

But this is private life and not a public performance. I have my doubts that any adequate ordinance can be framed to meet the problem. Perhaps it will be better merely to leave the matter to the discretion of the police, who should be empowered, under proper provocation, to shoot to kill. And, of course, each member of the force ought to be equipped with an elephant-gun so that once the gum-tossers and snappers are eliminated the even more important campaign can begin for the extermination of the hounds of hell who collect autographs.

Site Ed. Note: Probably not a bad idea that latter, in hindsight. But the children may ask: "If to kill, is not a sin?" Well, we know the answer, don't we? "I am YOU." U Her. What a bricker-tripp, man--or should we say, by a logical piece of deduction, Lady?

Oooh. Look how she-coons the caps.

We shall thus call her a scooner.

South's Right

Mr. Dewey Had Better Have Left These Words Off

We don't know whether Mr. Dewey meant to "take sides in a sectional dispute,"--as John Temple Graves charges--when he said yesterday at Minneapolis:

"The farm problem is pretty acute out here, with the long drought, and with the South producing and marketing dairy products."

But if he didn't, he plainly needs better advice than he is getting on the preparation of his speeches. For undoubtedly his audience took it that way. And if he did mean it so, then he is merely playing a shabby and dangerous sort of politics.

The South is entirely within its rights in turning to the production and marketing of dairy products. There have been few more curious manifestations of economic belief in this country, indeed, than the apparent conviction of the Northwest that it is somehow entitled to a monopoly in that field. And what makes it doubly amazing is that the Northwestern states have generally adopted laws which in effect bar the sale there of oleomargarine, which is made from Southern cotton seed. The whole case adds up pretty well to saying that it is the South's duty to remain poverty stricken in order to insure a market for the Northwestern farmers and cheese factories.

And Mr. Dewey or anybody else who even tacitly lends himself to any such a proposition will deserve to be blasted into political oblivion.

Site Ed. Note: Is it butter? Or is it the best of butter?

Counter Threat

Hitler & Co., Retort To Mussolini In Kind

The Nazis responded to Italy's veiled threat of Thursday with one of their own yesterday.

Like Mussolini, Mr. Hitler was very polite. He made it heavily plain that he was talking to the whole of Europe, and went on through that everlasting "spokesmen":

There are only two powers which might undertake to weld such a neutral bloc (in the Balkans) and at the same time be acceptable to us--Soviet Russia and Italy... Mussolini will never make the mistake of siding with some neutral bloc because that would constitute a one-sided commitment that is incompatible with his country's obligations toward us... He is tied up with us and he is much too decent ever to jump off the Axis.

That sounds, you see, as though Italy was the very last nation which was being warned--as though the Nazis were snuggling up to her in the most perfect confidence--and as though they meant somebody else entirely: say wicked old Albion and treacherous France or the Unspeakable Turk.

But, masters, it is precisely Benito Mussolini & Co. who have been most busily and loudly engaged in forming a Balkan neutral bloc. And they have left no doubt at all that they mean "neutral" in the full sense. Hence, what Hitler & Co. were really saying was:

"All right, pal, all right. So long as you take care to make it serve us, but you better watch your step, you better watch your step..."

Part of Wisdom

A Reformer Finds That The Times Have Changed

The decision of Doc Charles Giffen, 85, of New York, to give up snatching cigars from the mouths of passing strangers probably is a discrete one. The Doc, the recital of whose career takes up a third of the column in Who's Who in America--more than that of Charles Evans Hughes--is the founder of the Non-Smokers Protective League of America, and used to go about doing good in the Carrie Nation manner on a large scale.

But he is getting a little old for that now. And moreover, the intellectual climate of these states just isn't favorable to the Carrie Nation technique anymore. Time was when the sinful soul who smoke cigars--even more, cigarettes--or who looked on the corn when it was white, was so full of the conviction of guilt that he was likely to submit humbly to any spanking administered to him. But in these desperate times, they are as apt to be brazen about it, even to the uncomfortable point of socking too energetic do-gooders in the eye. And particularly is that true in bad old Gotham-on-the-Hudson.

But even when he is shorn of his picturesque methods, the Doc still remains a remarkable man. So far as we can discover, he is the champion "aginer" of all times. Specifically, he is against: tobacco, whisky, wine, beer, tea, coffee, pepper, vinegar, cocoa, drugs, the killing of all animals, the eating of all flesh, capital punishment. The last is something of a puzzler, since the rest of the Doc's dislikes seem to be connected with the stomach. He hates all "poisons," he says; they shorten your life. But it seems to us that the Doc is a bit over-ambitious. What does he want--to live forever?


Which We Succumb To, But Not Without Misgiving

Newsdom wants us to play prophet, a role which memory of past experiences teaches us to eschew. But here the questionnaire is on our desk. Four questions are asked:

Do you favor a third term for Roosevelt?

Do you think he'll run again?

If he doesn't, who do you think is the likely Democratic candidate?

Who do you think is the likely Republican candidate?

To which we respond in order: (1) no; (2) no; (3) McNutt; (4) Taft.

We think the third term tradition had better be preserved if democracy is to be preserved.

We think Mr. R. is too canny to risk defeat and the splitting of the Democratic Party.

Mr. McNutt is not precisely our chosen fair-haired favorite. But the man who secures the nomination is going to have to have the approval of Mr. Roosevelt. McNutt, at present, seems to have it in larger measure than any of the other aspirants.

As for the Republicans, Vandenberg has been out too long. He is beginning to wear on our nerves with his everlasting solemnity, and we suspect that he is doing the same thing to other people. Dewey is suspect by large body of people because of his extreme youth, and can't get the Hoover support. Hence, our hunch is that Mr. Taft will get the call, despite the fact that he is trailing now.

After which, we hastily cross our fingers...


Which Is Probably Easier On Paper Than In Practice

The Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung warns the people of Britain:

If England forces us to fight this war through to the end, then for the first time, after 900 years of isolation, it will directly experience the terror of a war. Nothing will save England from this fate--neither time, its fleet nor its gold.

That sounds like a threat of wholesale air attack. But Germany, as a matter of fact is no longer in a position to enter upon that sort of thing without a great deal of pondering. Authorities are generally agreed that next Spring--the earliest time such an attack could be launched, because of the Winter wind conditions--will see England and France in possession of actual air superiority, with the margin destined constantly to increase. And one thing is certain: when England begins to feel the terrors of war from the air, Germany will begin to feel them in at least equal proportion. There is little percentage in that.

But in fact, what the German journal appears to have in mind is an actual invasion of England by German armies. It is all very easy, you see,--on paper. All you've got to do is to have it that the British navy is no longer any good, that it is in full flight before the Nazi air power and doesn't dare approach the shores of its homeland, that therefore all Germany has to do is to have her navy and air force convoy the transports loaded with German soldiers to English harbors, land them, and voila!

It looked a lot easier than that, even, on a day long ago when they told Drake, playing at bowls on the Hoe at Plymouth, that the Spanish king's Armada was plowing confidently into the Channel. But somehow it didn't work out in practice.

Site Ed. Note: Query: Did Drake defeat Gog and Magog and forever free the island of its wicked Albion ways brought from Rome? Or, did he merely transfer them to North America? We might start by asking Officer Bowlin. What ho!? Perhaps, the corn-hog ratio could have a very illuminative effect on this whole perplexing matter. We must wait though until next the day of St. Clement to out-figure that. That is, if the escalator would ever stop. But that, in itself, makes for a rather alternately elevating and declining experience, doesn't it now? So...

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