The Charlotte News

Saturday, June 18, 1938


Site Ed. Note: We include from this date's page the following letter to the editor and editor's note on the continuing poetry battle at The News.

Fans Seething As Poets' War Roars Onward

Dickson, His Dander Up At Last, Prepares to Launch Counterblast Sunday

Dear Sir:

O, Mister Ed!
O, Mister Ed!
Please listen
While I rave.
I've tried so hard.
O, Mister Ed.
But up to now
I cannot make
My pen behave.

I'm all steamed up--
And ga-ga, too,
Anent this argument.
And I aim to have
The humane thing
Done to these poets
Of the continent.

So, friend of mine,
Let's to these poets of ours
A noble task
Maude shall do an ode
"To the flowers and the Beeses"
While John shall write an ode
"To the Beeses and the Flowers."

And when their tasks
Are all complete,
Let's give them both
A just award.
We'll plant Waddell
In her beloved fen,
While to Dickson we shall do
What Cam would do
To all our Congressmen!



[Note: Mr. Dickson, with his hat practically back on his neck, with battle in his eye and his jaw grim and set, is busily engaged in turning out his retort to La Waddell. Already twice, and though everyone knows that the 1945 model typewriters which the Messrs. L. C. Smith so accommodatingly furnish all newspaper offices are equipped with water cooling (twenty gallon capacity) and spiral gear, torque-free drive, we have had to call in the repair men to replace the bearings in his mill. And the steam generated has the office looking like the Thames embankment in a London fog. We have as yet had only a peep at the masterpiece, but we can report that it has the general effect of being simultaneously kicked by a mule and downing a quart of tequila (the Mexican hot stuff) at a gulp. Mr. Dickson frankly repudiates the Marquis of Queensbury rules and the code duello, on the ground that the quarrel was not of his seeking, and announces that he plans to fight by the rules of Jim the Goon. Almost, we tremble for the issue of what we have begun. But there is no help for it now, and it promises to be a fray to be long remembered. En garde, Maude! Tomorrow is the Day!--Editors, The News.]

Site Ed. Note: Unfortunately, despite the valiant efforts of Mister Ed., then and now, we cannot bring you the results of the next part of the match set, for the Sunday issue of The News does not exist on the microfilm. Maybe one day...

Until then, however, we shall provide instead something we read once, back in 1991. It was in a novel. We cannot tell you who the author of it was, but we have it on good authority that when written the author had never any inkling of a 1938 poetry challenge at The News, humorous or otherwise.

The scene is funereal, yet one with hope behind it, much as these editorials were always set down at The News in this period of time, 1937-41, whether by Cash, Dowd, or some others, syndicated or local, professional editorialist or only occasional letter writer, carper or cooper, be the latter plunderer of the hogshead or onboard cask repairer to maintain the fresh water over the briny sea.

A particular panegyric this we provide in brief represented literally within the novel, but one which, no doubt, was written with many such scenes repeated through time within the author's mind as it was set forth. There was much more to it, in the novel. Perhaps later we may provide some of that other part as well, as the battle continues. We wouldn't be so purposeful as to give it a title, formally anyway. For now, just these momentary glimpses into that scene, set July 7, 1941:

Next, Charles rose. "And some who will follow who will seek the good for all may yet be haunted in the shadows by the burley. Yet, we have your cause to call, better at times to be late than early. And keep us, if moment's smited, with ill repute or like. We need not fear the spited, for you have watched the night. And even if in Wake, all but one sole magistrate may tell us not to find, not to battle for that truth which those like you set on course; to Sunset's Gate we shall return once more. And wisdom once returned shall be to teach them most of all to see that we are all alike; just oft disagree on where we are in that Good Watch's time."

By now, among the congregation, pencils were being placed to paper hurriedly, almost as if, subito, an informal competition had swept them along to see who among them could pen the most fitting lines. It was helping to dispel the moment's unutterable grief and transform it to creative ingenuity. Everyone gradually was becoming welled to the breastplates with feelings of hope and future tidings.

George Cant of The Charlotte News now stood. "But tarry not, you Lincoln's blue velvetine uniforms of the dead. They freed the many from the few who held them apart from themselves. So, in little, of academe, did you--by dipping from the ribbon's ink to pen well the new truth vision of the old fancy Gone. And it is like a song to act on authority-light of imagination--not guns or knives or two wrongs. You sought to imagine, to set aright, that which was left after Jim Crow's riders in the night burned their kook crosses as they burned those at stake in Salem old and held their masses overseeing hot, seething servitude's might of cotton-tobacco, copper-gold--raging hell so solemn cold. But yet a simple cooper can make a barrel stave and tree's sap gives us somehow strength to grow and patience helps our breath and mind to save. And raise that sail upon State's mast and roll that rock of ages, mossless, roll tide roll. Observe, but be done with all that's bitter past such that even an old gray son can afresh reeve the climber's rope and tie off harsh, false toll. And defend Truth's garrisons' painfully felt slings like old Harper's Ferry mad-with-truth John Brown--whose heart was good but means were not--such that mud-slingers' Booth could a' first appear as truer shot. For scales of true Justice, though in sway, bring forth best when left blind, so truth comes 'round. And those harsh, dark night rides last but awhile. For they were not truly real nor meant to be--with Lily-white Camellia, clenched-fisted drunkards bearing their knives and ropes of Hell. They did exist, but the spirits they thought were cast live here yet with truth to tell--through us the living who followed from their words of last and gave gentle wisdom to end cold hate-reign's despise. Just say yes, we can see still, through all those Good Spirits' eyes."

And the Rains Came

A thousand years from now, scholars will undoubtedly quote a certain Chinese proverb which we shall invent forthwith: "The bad little brown man from Japan is mighty with smoke and fire against children, but when the gods hate him, they turn a river to quench his flame."

Down through Honan province today churns a brown, wild river, drowning Japanese and Chinese alike, a very mighty flood to stop a war. Oh, it won't stop it entirely; the obsessed Japanese will continue to hurl their fireworks on the curious, aged cities and on the patient, bewildered peasants, and in the end, very likely they will claim a military victory. But the Japanese, pragmatic little race, should have the great good sense to be superstitious. They should see that the Yellow River flood is an omen--well, more than an omen, a practical demonstration of works. The vast yellow bloodstream of the Chinese is like that river, swollen and potent and unconquerable. Let the Japanese occupy the cities and the fields, and let them write out titles. But in the very end, there will be floods and the Japanese will be lost. Lost as many another conquering race has been lost in China these past few thousand years.

Let's Arrest Prohibition

The police intimate they haven't got much evidence, the kind that will stand up in court, against Carl Lippard, whom they believe to be the elusive Mr. "Robert Taylor." And the size of his bond, $1,000, for which a check was written out--they might as well have released him on his own reconnaissance, for he will be there, unworried, when the case is called--the size of his bond indicates that even if liquor-running be proved on him, he can't be put away for good as a hardened offender against the laws society makes for itself.

In fact, the whole performance, in which the police have taken the allegorical role of Virtue Frustrated, shows all too clearly that the true hardened offender against the laws society makes for itself is, in this instance, the prohibition law. There isn't any doubt about it. The thing can be stated as a logical proposition in a form that any child can understand. Look, children:

Men have shown that their appetite for drink can't be legislated out.

As long as that appetite remains and can't be satisfied legally, it will be satisfied illegally.

Hence, "Robert Taylors" are a product directly of prohibition, who can be run out of business only by the taking over of their business.

Q. E. D.

Royal Copeland

It will seem a little strange not to have Old Doc Copeland figuring on the front pages hereafter. But that the country has suffered any very great loss is a declaration which will be maintained only in the formal statements of other politicians who feel bound to make them, and by the sort of mind which thinks that death somehow ennobles those who in life were less than noble. He had his private virtues, no doubt. But he was neither a great doctor nor a statesman. The wide syndicating of his health column was based on no eminence he enjoyed among medical men but simply upon the fact that politics had made his name nationally known.

And the statement by the Associated Press that he "typified the old-fashioned politician" perfectly sums up his public career. He was the Tammany man par excellence--that is, if we leave aside the personal corruption which has often distinguished Tammany men, for there is no evidence of that sort against him. But he did proceed on the Tammany theory that the public service represents so many jobs to be dealt out to a close coterie, and that the first duty of a jobholder is to himself and other jobholders. His name is attached to no first-rate achievement for the nation, though he sat in "the best club in the world" a very long time. Not a bad man, but not a superior one, either. Peace to his ashes!

Uses of the Jews

What lies behind the new outbreak of Jew-baiting in Germany is in great part, of course, simply the sadism and the will to wax fat by thievery which are two of the salient characteristics of Nazism. But the timing suggests the speculation that it may have other motives behind it, too.

Jew-baiting is ultimately only a negative facet of the preposterous Nazi myth that there exists a "German race" which is so superior that it is destined to sweep resistlessly to the hegemony of Europe and maybe of the world. And lately that legend has received a sad shock. Undismayed by their inferiority and the resistlessness of destiny, the Czechs have refused to be cowed into submission, have poured their armies along the border and dug in for war; the inferior French have spoken; and the inferior Russians have sent grim air squadrons to base in Czechoslovakia, with their eyes on Berlin. The "superior race," that is, has had to face the fact that, if it makes war here, it will not be the kind of war it has been so pridefully making in Spain--that death and ruin are very likely to come raining not only into the streets of Prague but into the streets of Berlin, and, the other great German towns as well. And, so far it has shown no determined and resistless appetite for that fare.

But it is all very devastating for the legend, of course. And it is dangerous to Mr. Hitler and his assorted psychopaths. For their tenure hangs finally upon the maintenance of the legend. They desperately need something that will at once divert the attention of the German people from the Czechoslovakian fiasco and reconfirm the feeling of racial power and superiority. And for that Jew-baiting is made to order.

Pot and Kettle

To be quite candid about it, South Carolinians seem to face a sad prospect when it comes to voting for a Senator this year. For their choice lies between:

1--A politician of the right, Cotton Ed Smith, whose sole platform consists of the old snide nigger-baiting for which he has always been notorious--plus an astounding revelation that he is really the best Roosevelt man of them all.

2--A politician of the left, Olin D. Johnston, whose sole platform is the promise to yea-yea, sight unseen, all the legislation the Roosevelt Administration may cook up.

3--A politician of the center, Mr. Brown, whose sole platform is the promise to "bring home all the bacon" he can get to South Carolina.

Men who have any genuine interest in the welfare of their country might as well throw dice for a choice between these three.

But perhaps we had better not be too snooty about it. After all, we have just had a campaign in which neither candidate of the Senate ever set himself down as having any views at all save for being "loyal" to "our President" and wanting to deport aliens, of which North Carolina had none--and in which we elected a man who is certainly not to be rated a whit higher than the worst of the three running in South Carolina.

Champions of a Tradition

Eugene W. Casey, lately an unemployed taxi driver of New York, has his cab back on the street now, and, with his wife, Cora L. Casey, wants to be taken off relief and--to "repay back" the $49.10 he received while on relief. He wrote the city treasurer that, and when the reporters went around to look at him, he said it was just the way he "was raised up," and, "that's the way I'm raising my kid, too."

This is not a unique instance. New York has had several cases of the kind before. And Baltimore and Maryland have turned up a number, also. But there's one very curious thing about it. Casey is a Negro--a man, that is, who belongs to the least privileged of American groups. And the rest of the Caseys of which we have heard were those of the dratted aliens Bob Reynolds likes to paint as the dregs from Europe. Some of them were German, some Poles and Czechs, some Italian, and one of them, we think, was an Armenian or a Turk or something of the kind. We do not say positively that there wasn't a single 100 per cent, native, white, free, Anglo-Saxon in the lot of them, but just that we haven't heard of him.

What it proves, if anything, we leave to the reader to decide for himself. Ourselves, we are content to call attention to it.

Site Ed. Note: Elsewise, the story of today.

Also, here is something we ran across the other day at Louis Round Wilson, a photograph appearing in The News, November 7, 1937; we provide it for you early (or late), depending on when you run across this day's editorials, now or in the future, be it the past or present, and in what order you might view them, forward, backward, or, as we prefer, a little of each.

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