The Charlotte News

Sunday, May 8, 1938


Site Ed. Note: Not finding much to say about that below, at least not much which we already haven't amply said before, save perhaps to point out that "licker" in "On the Cuckoo Front" was spelt thusly--and should you have ever been licked by it just once, you probably understand the reference by the hair of the dog that licked you, (or instead that you licked on all fours)--we thought we would amplify a bit for your edification some more on the editorials of the day before.

Originally, when we started uploading these editorials in November-December, 1998, our universe from which to draw was limited to two and only two sources, the "Reader" section of Joseph Morrison's 1967 biography of Cash which contained about four or five such non-by-lined editorials, plus a little box of actual News clippings of the editorial column from the period 1937 through 1941, a total of about 150 editorials, about 35 days' worth. That was it. May 7, 1938 was one of those dates. It, like the others in that box, was just the clipping of the editorial column, not the full page.

The person who had clipped and maintained those clippings was someone we knew once upon a time, long ago and far away, someone who knew Cash pretty well. This person used to accompany us when we were embarking on our path to our first days in school, way, way back there somewhere. (We had to weave our own way home, however; that was easier, you see.) He never said much, and so we couldn't impart any particular sage words from this elderly gentleman; he just bore an omnipresent sort of subtle grin always when he walked with us. That's not to say he couldn't become fiercely angry; he could and did at times, though not by habit and only at other adults, never toward us. If we did something displeasing or puzzling to him, which occasionally we did do, he would patiently await, for disciplinary devices, the presence of someone with more direct input to our particular generation, as he was 80 years older than we were. His was to smile or not quite so much so, and so to instruct us thusly, quietly.

He was a fiercely determined man, hard-working all of his regular life, retiring completely only sometime in his seventies, a little before our time. He was a family man, regularly church-going, but not oppressive about religion or wearing his beliefs on his coat sleeve to impress or oppress others, liked to listen a lot to Billy Graham after he got too old to attend church regularly, after his wife passed away. After that, he even lived around us for awhile, until he had to go away for his health one day in his latter year and a half or so. We happened to be around visiting him one sunny Monday afternoon in a November, when he quietly passed away.

We point it all out only in passing; two editorials of the previous day in that little box of clippings, a box bearing the pre-printed title, "The Home File", (subtitled, "Letters-Bills Receipts"), bore a red check; they were "An 'Honorable' Default" and "Playing with Fire"; so, when we originally uploaded those editorials, we had assumed the check marks meant that only those were definitely authored by Cash. We have since re-evaluated through the long process of reviewing various phraseology since which we can discern was definitely by Cash. Most likely, all six of those editorials were by Cash. Who placed the red check marks there, of course, or when, we don't know. It may have been by our old friend or it may have been by someone else later doing some educated guess work.

In any event, our point is that we had never seen the rest of that page there until we grabbed it off of the microfilm a few months ago, a few days before Christmas, '05, and even then we didn't pause to look at it, only doing that yesterday. And so it wasn't until yesterday that we noticed that little piece in the lower right corner of the page.

If you don't quite know why that is interesting yet, well, you're probably reading these pieces chronologically, which is fine, as you please, though not the way we have chosen to approach them; but if that is your choice, be patient, as it will come to you.

Time has a way of making life more and more interesting as we get older. If you are younger, you have a lot to which to look forward, provided that is, you continue to read.

Speaking of younger and older, one of several of our favorite songs we like to sing to ourselves as we walked to school in those early days, way, way back there, was an old folk song about the Erie Canal. The version of it we first heard was not by Pete Seeger, though he sang a version of it hard to beat and we heard his later on and liked it also.

Recently, in the last few days in fact, we heard some youngsters singing the song again, and they did one heck of a good job of rendering that old song in our estimation. We like it a lot, anyway.

We might hum it some as we walk to school, in fact.

We all need to be sung to on occasion, especially when we're getting older.

And when your constitution is 219 years old, as ours is, we can use all the singing of old songs to our ears, in new and dusted off, fresh versions--and by young and old alike, and some who just think they are one or the other, as we are so much younger than all that now--, we can get, lest we become old and rusted out before our time.

So, watch out and get on down when you get to those low bridges on the edge of town, and keep your ol' pal side by your side, as you navigate along those eery canals, whether in New Orleans, the Shenandoah, the Little Bighorn or wheree'er you may traverse.

What He Gained

Mussolini's signal to Hitler to go ahead with the granting of Czechoslovakia in the confidence of his blessing and aid, seems to leave Mr. Chamberlain sitting squarely in the silly seat again.

The only rational aim that can be supposed to have been in his handing over Spain to Mussolini in return for a few kind words was the halting of Hitler's Drank nach Osten. But it has obviously failed to do any such thing. And that it would fail ought to have been plain to anybody. It is quite true that Mussolini and Hitler have certain opposing interests and that soon or late they'll probably come to blows. But their immediate aims do not conflict at all. On the contrary, it is manifestly in the interest of both to act together at the moment. Indeed, all that Mr. Chamberlain seems to have succeeded in doing is to accelerate the march on Czechoslovakia, by finally convincing the dictators that the English Lion has been metamorphosed into a mouse.

Maybe, however, Mr. Chamberlain isn't quite so silly as he looks. If he hasn't saved the peace of Europe for a generation, as promised, he has nevertheless accomplished one thing: he has managed to keep himself and his crowd in power a good deal longer than seemed likely at the time Hitler seized Austria.

"They Can't Do That"

Messer Harry Hopkins, somewhat sardonically, we should think, has assured WPA workers that they won't, no matter what anybody tells them, lose their jobs through political intimidation. "I intend," he says, "to send out right away a manuscript in words of one syllable to all WPA enrollees emphasizing that no man will lose his job because of the way he votes or doesn't vote."

This reminds us of the fellow who shouted through the bars, "You can't put me in jail." Messer Harry may absolutely lay down the law that politics are to play no part in relief, and we do him the justice to believe that he'd prefer it that way. But Messer Harry is only the starting point of the relief deluge. It gushes down through his subordinates in states, quite frequently under the thumb of some big shot politician, thence all the way in driblets through the hands of local agents, many of whom got their jobs solely for political reasons and are quite well aware of it. There is too much smoke--Florida and Pennsylvania, for active instances--to doubt the possibility that there is some fire. Besides, the risk is not alone that a man shall be fired from WPA because he isn't right politically. For every relief client of that kind, there are twenty who don't get on unless they promise to vote with their benefactors.

On the Cuckoo Front

Further evidence that the silly season is now hitting on all twelve comes from Tennessee. The state is one of the four "dry" states in the nation. It has been legally arid 29 weary years. But it also has a great planter in Moore County named Mr. Lem Motlow. And the prohibition laws have plainly done Mr. Motlow no good. For back in the old wicked wet days Mr. Motlow was celebrated not only as a planter but also as a distiller. He made a kind of licker Tennesseans thought particularly palatable, and even deacons have been known to break down and weep when they reflected that they had aided in the undoing of Mr. Motlow and Mr. Motlow's good licker.

So the last session of the Legislature considerately came to Mr. Motlow's rescue with the Motlow Law, which provided that any Tennessee county that wanted to could let any of its citizens manufacture licker. And Tuesday, Moore County voted that Mr. Motlow could. Ah, then, Tennessee has really come around to the North Carolina system of local option and hereafter cannot be called truly dry? Not at all. There is a provisory clause in the Motlow law which provides that while Mr. Motlow can make licker he can't sell a drop of it within the borders of Tennessee but only in the unregenerate countries which lie beyond.

What Tennessee's stake in the matter may be is a little hard to come at. But maybe the pious Tennesseans, knowing licker, even Mr. Motlow's good licker, to be a demon when drunk, plan to console themselves by sniffing the fumes from Mr. Motlow's distillery.

Curbing the J-P

The jaypee bill cooked up by the jaypee state organization, and endorsed by the state bar, looks like a pretty fair measure, so far as it goes. Under its terms, the Legislature will be deprived of power to appoint justices of the peace, and instead one will be elected from each township in the state in 1940 and each fourth year thereafter, and in addition, one will be elected in each township for each 20,000 population in excess of 15,000. There are some serious objections to the popular election of any sort of judge, but in the circumstances, it is probably a reasonable solution. For at least the victims of such practices as we have described on this page will have a chance to register their protest.

But the bill doesn't go far enough. It still leaves the Governor--any Governor--the power to re-appoint any justice holding office on January 1, 1939. And the record shows pretty clearly that some of the worst appointments which have been made have been made by Governors. That is not so much a reflection on the judgment and ethics of the Governors, as it is the natural outcome of a political system whereunder a Governor makes such appointments almost entirely on the basis of the recommendations of local politicians. But the fact remains, nonetheless, and it is not pleasant to face the prospect of certain incredible jaypees remaining indefinitely in office.

But there is an even more serious defect in the bill. One of the great troubles of the jaypees has been that so many of them are ignorant men, some of them nearly illiterate and most of them without any knowledge of the law they set up to administer. Some of them fall into questionable practices because they are natural slickers, but more of them because they are too simple to grasp the implications of what they are about. For ourselves, we are far from sure that the state can't very well get along without jaypees altogether. But if we are bound to have them, then they certainly should be required to pass an examination, based on a high school education and elementary acquaintance with the law, to be eligible for the job at all.

Explaining a Reversal

The sudden rush in the House of Representatives to reverse itself and snatch the wage and hour bill from the reluctant committee, is an instructive exhibit of the way in which we are governed.

One of the powerful causes of this about-face was, of course, the fact that some of the eastern states, and particularly Pennsylvania, have lately begun to be greatly alarmed by the migration of their industries to the South. They lay that exodus to the wage differential in the South, and hope that the wage and hour bill, which, as it is presently drawn, allows for no differential but instead imposes the same scale on both North and South, will end the movement.

But what was plainly more powerful for the reversal was that this is an election year for members of the House. That is certainly almost the whole explanation of the fact that 22 Southern Representatives signed the petition to bring the bill to the floor. Most of these Southerners are privately against any wage and hour bill at all, and certainly they are against one drawn without a differential. And down to last week, they were apparently fairly confident that they can safely let the thing die in committee. The AFL and the CIO are both for it, to be sure. But there was a widespread notion that the general sentiment of the South was leaning rapidly away from the President and the whole policy of the New Deal. But then last week Senator Pepper, one of the best yes-men the President has in the Senate, overwhelmed two opponents who made their campaign squarely on the line of opposition of the New Deal. And looking at that, reflecting that they themselves have shortly to face the electorate, the boys naturally thought it might be a good idea to get themselves on record for going down the line for the measure which the President has made the very head and front of the New Deal.


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