The Charlotte News

Monday, August 22, 1938


Site Ed. Note: The colorful Tom Jimison was a defrocked Methodist minister who then became a liberal civil rights attorney defending mainly African-Americans accused of crime. He also aided in the defense of the Loray mill strike organizers at Gastonia. (Cf. "The War in the South", The American Mercury, February, 1930) As quoted in Bruce Clayton's biography of Cash at page 101, Jimison called Charlotte, "The lowest-kneeling, loudest-praying, rightest-fisted, hardest-drinking clan of Scotch Presbyterians that ever staggered to the polls to vote dry... They'd crucify Christ again right in front of the First Presbyterian Church if ever he dared to show up here."

Well, we can only speak for some other towns in North Carolina, not per se Charlotte, but we can safely say that the Bishop's words still ring true at least in some of those other parts, and perhaps as true as they ever did despite the passage of some seventy years since he uttered them. Why they defrocked him, we don't know exactly. But, more than likely, it was because he didn't utter good ol' boy-speak on Monday through Friday while colportaging it to the flock on Sunday for the tobacco and mill gods: "How ya'll this mornin'? Good to see ye. Yeah, ahuh. Ya'll like the church we built for ye? Buck gave us all the money so we would tell ya'll good things about tobacca and yarn, mainly tobacca. Buck takes care of us. Dick takes care of the Baptists. Yeah. Ahuh. Ya'll be good now. Good to see ye again. Ahuh. See ye next Sunday. Have a good smoke and don't drink too much this week, now. The Devil won't bother you as long as you don't bother Buck and Dick, and give generously to your lord at election time so you can be among his elect. Ahuh."

But, according to the Fayetteville Observer of 1863, they probably had a reason for the passage of this tobacco cause, as well all the roistering and railing and kneeling and praying in rapturous disharmony; it was to get even with the world for all the plundering and pillaging by the Yankee. May still be that way in the minds of some of 'em. Think of it, next time you have the urge to light one up.

But as to Bishop Jimison, we really don't know. They say he liked his moonshine. But, save perhaps R. L. Godwin, didn't they all in those turbulent days?

The rest of the day's stoned are here.

A Prophet Without Honor*

It was nice to have a letter from Bishop Tom F. Jimison, former pastor of The News parish, and nicer still to be in complete accord with its theme. This was: that what Mecklenburg needs, with its crowded criminal court dockets, its magnanimous nolleprosses, its inability to keep up with crime, is for the Legislature to make it a separate judicial district.

That has been the burden of our argument for some months, and the Bishop is his old sententious self when he says:

"Iffen we will all lay off Solicitor Carpenter, quit cussin' the lawyers and cut out the fumadiddles about the waste of time in the Courthouse, and will set to work to get the next Legislature to make a judicial district of this county, then the docket will not be crowded and we will be well on the way to the Promised Land, or som'ers."

Well on the way nothing: we'll be in the Promised Land! Its western boundary will be the Catawba River, and we should be grieved at the prospect of leaving poor Gaston in bondage were it not that bonds still are in Gaston, as they used to be in Mecklenburg, mere formalities.

Site Ed. Note: Incidentally, we assume the header of this piece on the Bishop references the very statement, attributed to Jesus on his return to his place of nativity quoted in Matthew 13:57, upon which Joseph Morrison commented in describing why he chose his title for Cash's first biography:

"To confer upon Cash the title of prophet is simply to recognize the truly prophetic nature of his role, that of analytical interpreter. Perhaps often 'a prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house,' but Cash's prestige is not so restricted, for the South of 1941 did honor him. However, he was honored for comfortable, and therefore wrong reasons. Discerning critics praised his insights in interpreting the Southern past, but they failed to appreciate his relevance to the future. They preferred not to inquire too closely into the brooding and foreboding note on which Cash ended his book... His life's experience had taught him the South's infinite capacity for self-deception, and he concluded as if to say: 'My fellow Southerners, I love you but you have fooled yourselves. You have been misled by your own myths and the time is short; you cannot secede from the twentieth century.'" (W. J. Cash: Southern Prophet, Knopf, 1967, p. viii of Preface)

Of course, Morrison's words were paraphrase; what Cash actually said in the last paragraphs was this:

It is far easier, I know, to criticize the failure of the South to face and solve its problems than it is to solve them. Solution is difficult and, for all I know, may be impossible in some cases. But it is clear at least that there is no chance of solving them until there is a leadership which is willing to face them fully and in all their implications, to arouse the people to them, and to try to evolve a comprehensive and adequate means for coping with them. It is the absence of that leadership, and ultimately the failure of any mood of realism, the preference for easy complacency, that I have sought to emphasize here.

This analysis might be carried much farther. But the book is already too long, and so I think I shall leave it at this. The basic picture of the South is here, I believe. And it was that I started out to set down.

Proud, brave, honorable by its lights, courteous, personally generous, loyal, swift to act, often too swift, but signally effective, sometimes terrible, in its action--such was the South at its best. And such at its best it remains today, despite the great falling away in some of its virtues. Violence, intolerance, aversion and suspicion toward new ideas, an incapacity for analysis, an inclination to act from feeling rather than from thought, an exaggerated individualism and a too narrow concept of social responsibility, attachment to fictions and false values, above all too great attachment to racial values and a tendency to justify cruelty and injustice in the name of those values, sentimentality and a lack of realism--these have been its characteristic vices in the past. And, despite changes for the better, they remain its characteristic vices today.

In the coming days, and probably soon, it is likely to have to prove its capacity for adjustment far beyond what has been true in the past. And in that time I shall hope, as its loyal son, that its virtues will tower over and conquer its faults and have the making of the Southern world to come. But of the future I shall venture no definite prophecies. It would be a brave man who would venture them in any case. It would be a madman who would venture them in face of the forces sweeping over the world in the fateful year of 1940.

And while on the subject of court criticism and "cussin' the lawyers", it is worth remembering that the gent who was responsible for first breathing English breath, the foundation of the modern culture which is America, into the land, Walter Raleigh, once wrote a poem in which he presents Jesus, not as a rabbi or minister, but rather as an attorney, perhaps as an attorney to those who were otherwise but among the damned. "...And He hath angels, but no fees." We, being human, must have fees to eat in modern life, but there is nothing which says we cannot also have angels, as well.

Man in the Air!

For long years the members of Congress have fattened on patronage, resisting vigorously or supinely, according to their nature, all efforts to take this perquisite away from them and put government service on a strictly merit basis. And now this same patronage appears to be a Frankenstein in the hands of a new boss, about to turn and devour some of its former keepers.

In Maryland, where the President is frankly out to get Senator Tydings, through the means of a New Dealer named Lewis, it has been announced from Lewis' headquarters--

"There is no question about it. No one will be appointed [to Federal jobs] without the recommendation of Mr. Lewis."

Well, it serves Maryland's old-line politician right, though what is to be gained by having the new-line politicians fall heir to his patronage eludes us at the moment. At any rate, there should be a bitter lesson in it for Senator Tydings. He voted against the reorganization bill--the one feasible method yet proposed of taking Federal patronage out of politics. He offers a perfect illustration of a man h'isted by his own petard.

Our Bumper Crop*

In the last five months North Carolina has at length been moving steadily towards the demographic equinox. However, you need not get excited about it. Those are only two-dollar words to describe the point when deaths in a population exactly equal the births. And even if that prospect alarms you, you may be at peace so far as North Carolina goes at present or is likely to go soon.

The number of births for each of the last five months has been smaller than for the corresponding months last year--the total for 1938 to the first of August being 45,779 as compared with 46,249 for the same period in 1937. And at the same time, the total number of deaths has been increasing slightly, being 20,184 as compared to 20,176 for the same seven months last year. But you'll observe that even so the number of births is still more than twice as great as the number of deaths and as against the old, and Mr. Kuester may yet get Charlotte made into the roaring town of which he dreams.

And maybe that soothes you. And maybe it ought to. But there are people who doubt it. Thus, the National Emergency Council in the report to the President last week on economic conditions in the South pointed out at least two objections. The first one is that, as a result of its enormous birth rate, the South was to educate one-third of all the nation's children, though it gets only one-sixth of the national income. And the second is that the number of the young drives a great part of the best brains born in the South away from it. Thus, over half of the famous scientists born in Dixie now live in Yankeedom, and though there is some counterflow, it far from makes up the loss.

Still Hauling Passengers*

All the railroad presidents in the country could find food for thought in Mr. Daly's report in The News last week on the Piedmont & Northern Railway's experience with its one-cent-a-mile passenger fare. Prior to 1932, the P&N charged as high rates as any of 'em, and when the combination of the automobile and the depression came on, this electric railroad caught you know what.

So its directors conferred and decided to reduce passenger rates from 3.6 cents to a flat 2. It had some effect: enough, at any rate, to induce the road to take the bull by the tail and put in a bargain one-cent rate. That was in the Fall of 1932.

In the first six months of 1933, helped somewhat by reviving business, the P&N's passenger revenues increased nearly three times over the same period in 1932, the number of passengers nearly eight times, and expenses only 41 per cent. For the first half of 1938, though the railroad business had suffered so severe a relapse that its plight was the subject of a special Presidential message to Congress, the P&N was still hauling 6.8 per cent more passengers than it had in 1933. Revenue from the traffic was down by a fourth from the best six months of the 1932-1938 period (1934), but the P&N was still considerably better off than it had been with its 3.6-cent fare.

The experiment has proved that there is more profit in hauling more passengers at cheaper rates and fewer at a higher rate, which latter is the policy followed by the main line railroads and the ICC. And the passengers--they most certainly come out ahead.

Now You See It

The combination of the old-run-around and the shell game is what they're giving Britain's Prime Minister today. The Non-Intervention Committee wasn't his patent, so that he can't be held responsible for its failure to keep Hitler and Mussolini--and Stalin--from intervening to their heart's content in Spain's private war. But the Easter agreement with Italy was his pet solution and he thought he had something. Whereas all England has got out of it so far is one taunting postponement after another.

That agreement was to go into effect only after the withdrawal of foreign soldiers in Spain, in equal numbers from both sides, had taken place. Quibbling by Italy served to delay withdrawals until Franco appeared to have the winning of the war in his pocket, and then when the Loyalists wiggled loose and actually began pushing the Insurgents around, they pulled the old hidden-ball trick on Chamberlain. Withdrawals, they told him, were out. Franco simply wouldn't hear of such a thing.

A less astonishing man than Chamberlain this would have chagrined exceedingly. That there is reason to believe that Sir Neville was chagrined to the saturation point already, and that it was when the Loyalists pulled themselves together and showed new fight that he suffered his greatest humiliation. For he had given Mussolini carte blanche to win this war and made that conquest the prime consideration for the Anglo-Italian accord. And now the forfeit refuses to be forfeited, and Neville's touted agreement is only something that has never yet come off.

Gay Lady

We thought it sounded dizzy enough and more than a little terrifying when they started building that telescope in California which is going to bring the moon within 25 miles of the eye of the observer. Imagine looking at that luminary, which is a fourth as big as the earth, and actually 250,000 miles away, at about the same distance from which you can view King's Mountain from the top of the First National Bank Building. For ourselves, it sets the hackles up on our necks and makes us yearn for a surer foothold in the universe than we seem to have got.

But now the astronomical boys have gone even that one better. Using the moon as a mirror--i.e., by examining the light rays reflected from the earth as the moon bends them back to us--they find that Old Lady Earth is the fanciest body roaming the void. Observed through the mirror, she turns out to be running around in a garment which is a sort of perpetual all-enveloping rainbow. And her makeup kit includes everything from the complexion of an Indian Belle to that of the late Jean Harlow, to be used at her mood. White and blue and purple and crimson and orange and black and pink and amethyst--all these and more, she continually doffs and dons in variegated and shining splendor. And even her ties she wears wound around her as golden beads. Somehow, it all scares us stiff. But here is one comfort: the smug satisfaction of seeing our judgment vindicated. We always did surmise that, seeing the antics of the creatures who inhabit her, she must be a flighty looking sight in her own right.

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