The Charlotte News
Tuesday, July 19, 1938
Site Ed. Note: "When Marie Was Here" reminds how fast times change, especially from the turn of the last century onward to the present one, as man's pace throttled up, for better and worse.
We can think of our own time a decade ago, not so strikingly in contrast to the present as that which was compared between 1926 and 1938, perhaps, but nevertheless striking all the same--before we heard of anyone whose first name, being Monica, would garner instant recognition of the subject matter, before the internet began to flourish widely and change the way we interconnect, and perhaps our thinking in some ways better, in some ways worse, before the strangest election ever there was in the memory of all of us living, before one of the more shocking events in the country's history, before, in its wake, we became obsessed with security and terrorism and fear and before we began seriously and regularly to ask the question of ourselves as to whether our freedoms any longer could co-exist in the face of those new obsessions--all that, together with the ordinary petty nuisances, the gathering storm of the continuing warming of the planet, and our increasing awareness of it made stark by the vicissitudes of nature cast in stark relief before us, here, there, everywhere, the ineptitude and courage of mankind, the strength and the weaknesses of the globe in whole--all in a heartbeat it seems, though a decade has passed in its ever-increasing arithmetic pace as we grow older and it becomes less and less a fraction of our lives. Only in a decade.
All that and more--and it reminds us, too, of a song, maybe, well absolutely and sweetly, two, perhaps, from the pen of the same poet, one from 1966, one from 1979.
Well, we'll leave you to guess them.
A Slow Train
It was early last Summer when Lawyer Jake Newell uttered the general charges about crooked lawyers that resulted in an investigation by the State Bar, Inc. That the investigators found something to work on is an assumption warranted by the number of sessions they held to begin with and the fact that they have kept on holding them. Even yet, the grievance committee is not ready to report. It has announced that it will present its findings to the council of the State Bar at its next meeting October 27--sixteen months after the charges were made.
The matter is important, of course, and needs to be gone into thoroughly and carefully. Lawyers shouldn't be disbarred from practice lightly. But, on the other hand, if any of them have earned disbarment, it should have been established promptly. It's hardly fair to the public which engages lawyers to take sixteen months to find out that they shouldn't, perhaps, have been practicing in all that time.
One More "Fundation"
North Carolina, a poor state, has profited more and more in recent years from benefactions. The Duke Endowment set the style and was a marvelous lift to the people of this and the other Carolina educationally and medically. The Smith Reynolds Foundation was another generous bequest, the first income from which is being devoted to the eradication of venereal disease. The Richardsons at Greensboro also have incorporated a foundation of their own which, under its terms, will increase and become more useful as time goes on.
And now comes another foundation, devoted to no public purpose, it is true, but nevertheless having the effect of distributing outside wealth in North Carolina. We are undecided if it should be called the Pat Ryan Foundation in honor of the chap who will be forced to pay it, or the Cotillo Foundation in honor of the New York judge who awarded it. In any case, the court has ordered the payment of $10,000 a year alimony to Mrs. Martha Barclay Ryan, the one-night bride, and $7,500 to her attorney. Somehow it makes us want to sing the last stanza and chorus of the State Song:
Then let all who love us love the land that we live in
(As happy a region as on this side of Heaven),
Where Plenty and Freedom, Love and Peace smile before us.
Raise aloud, raise together, the heart-thrilling chorus.
Hurrah! Hurrah! The Old North State for-e-ever!
Hurrah! Hurrah! To the good Old North State!
When Marie Was Here
Calvin Coolidge was President of the United States that year when the front pages were black day after day with the story of Marie of Roumania's passage across the states, with what she did and wore and said. A man named Sinclair Lewis had just published a book called "Arrowsmith," and was getting a divorce. A certain Henry Mencken and a certain George Jean Nathan were having an uproarious time poking fun at the Babbitts in a magazine called The American Mercury. The stock market was going up to new record highs day by day. A man employed by William Randolph Hearst and answering to the name of Brisbane was hammering upon the American psyche with a theme song that ran, "Don't Sell America Short!"
Gertrude Ederle, thick of muscle and stout of limb, was the current athletic heroine. There was a new dance craze in the country--called the Charleston. The reigning song hit was "Yes, Sir, That's My Baby!" Men went about in a kind of pants called Oxford bags, or wore knickers to the office. In Washington they were calling Andrew Mellon the "Greatest Secretary of the Treasury Since Alexander Hamilton." Herbert Hoover and Al Smith were beginning to be talked for the Presidency, though everybody agreed they couldn't be nominated. Women wore funny long-waisted dresses which stopped at the knee, and the oddest hats. John Gilbert and Clara Bow were packing them in at the silents. You could buy a radio with six tubes if you had $300. There were wild men to tell you that someday somebody actually would fly the Atlantic...
It all seems as remote from us now as the days of Marie's grandmother, Victoria of England.
Site Ed. Note: And then, too, there was the pride of Lochinvar, who had come from the wrong way all the way back to Ireland, to fight his windmill...
He got lost in the fog going west to California from New York, he said, his compass turned upside down, strange on him somehow, and, what is more, he never saw the ocean below until it was too late to turn back, or maybe e'en until he spotted the headland shoals o' Eire, the way kindly came by which he did tack. But such be the ways of legends created, bein' run rows to reap fendt's glien, from the myst which be of those mainly unsated, when one goes to sleep in a dream.
For commentary on other such stunts, see "Gesture", May 30, 1939.
Salute to Mr. Corrigan
Through all the wide border his steed was the worst.
Mr. Douglas Corrigan isn't of the slightest importance for science. But he is considerably important for the preservation of a fine, if entirely sentimental, tradition. It was a happy ending that he should set his plane down in Ireland, the home of the Playboy of the Western World, whose blood is his own. The little people who live about the bogs and mountains and cairns, and watch over the luck of the Irish, must have been congregated in solid array on the hilltops to see him safely down from the clouds. And the plough in the earth and the stars in the sky are somehow very fitting symbols for a man who goes blithely flying over the seas in an old crate held together by nothing much but baling wire and his own insouciant will.
Ah, well, Mr. Corrigan is a good Irishman, and a good drawling Texan, too--half brag and half modesty, after the fashion of both Irishmen and Texans. A new and more splendid Lochinvar, who comes riding eastward not on a dashing charger but a poor old rawbones of a Rozimante--and still somehow remains heroic, the more heroic for it.
That matter-of-fact young redhead would probably wilt with embarrassment if anybody ever actually stuck a plume over it, but the plume is there just the same, and all the gesturing which ever graced man's spirit when confronting the image of death. And however sentimental it may be, we confess to being excessively pleased with Mr. Corrigan.
A Cry of Quits
Who started this mad armament race? Why, the accursed democracies. This is handed down on the authority of the editor of the newspaper La Voce d'Italia, which often speaks for Mussolini. And it is these same democracies, his master's voice declares, which will be demolished and left broken on the field when ultimately their arms and men are put to the test.
Who started the armament race is a moot point. Germany, for instance, could say with some reason that the Allies started it when they forbade her to rearm after Versailles, meanwhile proceeding to build up their own war machines. France and England could say that Germany started it by getting out of the League in 1933 and giving every appearance of a nation looking again for trouble. But who started it, is beside the point. Whom it's going to finish is a much more practical consideration.
One likely prospect is Italy. Between 1934 and 1936 her armament expenditures went up more than 100 per cent, and even at that were less than those of the United States, about equal to England's, and not much more than France's. But, alack, Italy finds herself devoting more than 50 per cent of her total governmental revenue to armament, as contrasted with France's 20 per cent, England's 20 per cent, and the United States' 11 per cent. In fine, what strained Italy to the uttermost, the democracies managed to take more or less in stride. And the democracies still have their military playthings, whereas Italy has shot up hers and had them shot up on the heels of Ethiopia and Spain.
By the time the epidemic of election investigations in North Carolina exposes fully the extent to which the professional politicians have attempted to defraud the voters, we predict a wave of public condemnation so bitter that improvement will be bound to come. For this prospect, however sordid its background, let's give thanks. Of peculiar local interest is the inquiry which the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections is conducting. While so far it has not developed indications of wholesale frauds, it has shown enough to put the people on guard--and when Mecklenburg goes on guard it does so rather forcefully.
If in so small a way exposure of the stealing arouses the people as it has done here, then in the counties where irregularity was so flagrant the sentiment should be greater in proportion. Inasmuch as the voting was under the auspices of the Democratic Party, that organization is under an obligation which it cannot unload easily. Year in and year out this newspaper has labored diligently for fair elections, particularly for the repeal of the absentee ballot law, for placing the burden upon the Democratic Party which, squirm as it may, must take the blame. The present situation is no different, except in extent, from those of the past. When the public begins to demand reform, as it quite certainly will after these exposures, the party leaders may as well make up their minds to come clean--and that doesn't mean a restoration of the old convention system either.
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