The Charlotte News

Tuesday, August 23, 1938


Site Ed. Note: "Unscheduled Chivalry" for some reason brings to mind the sad tale of the 3:00 a.m. stabbing of Kitty Genovese in New York City in 1964, the one witnessed from closed windows in apathetic acceptance rather than the expected abject terror by several, (some say 6, others say 38), neighbors who only belatedly called the police, after it was too late to save Ms. Genovese's life, as her attacker, once having retreated, returned over the course of a half hour to finish her off there bleeding to death in the hallway of her apartment building.

Perhaps, the blasé chill, the isinglass indifference to reality's screams of pain, which overtakes any large urban area after a time, is simply resultant from reading too much of those hacklebacks, who, once samaritans, become damned for it nevertheless, so leading the crowd to choose, in numbers of comfort, to be damned instead anonymously for don't.

Was the chivalrous fellow described below a hero or precipitant interloper? One woman saved from death or serious injury to be sure, but two men killed, 50 injured in the resulting accident.

Life is complex in a large city--until a disaster strikes to re-simplify it back down. Then, for awhile at least, there is a return to a neighborhood by neighborhood, street by street, house by house, neighbor to neighbor kind of style. For awhile.

Would it were so all the time, that we did not need the cruel death, the massive accident, the earthquake, the hurricane, the attack, the major death toll to call the collective spirit to wake to the simple art of life, living it and striving for understanding of it each moment to each moment, each person's past and present and future to each other's.

The other part of the page is here. We learn from it that when the Old Earthy Lady puts on her cosmetics, she is actually bringing order to chaos--at least that is what we gather through our cosmetically polished Palomar telescope of it all.

After seeing and hearing it awhile, screeching around its axis, thornily, and in considering again "Gay Lady" and the one which goes, "Yous shalt not suffer a witch to live," we came unto the leafy conclusion, beneath our wolframmed lampon, that, upon figuring we'd get moonshined up by the reflection of the rays, thus to hide from ourselves by the dodge in occludity that which is of the will's secretive cadre of reticulation made manifest, we'd thus proceed to wed our purposes finely to and go out and, with two-edged gilt Sword unbraced in twain, let slip and Kill Old Lady.

But then, by the time all of that consideration had been explored, devoured, postulated, re-postulated, and translated through time and space and back again, upon light passage through the void, from the luminescent orb up there, the sun came up a day, and, feeling most dewy, we proceeded home from the hills, our wolfish coat now shed to receive the newly endued warmth, making our way to the downy embrace of our beneficent boudoir by the extinguished inglenook from whence we could and so did our departure after the midnight hour previous; yet returning now, innocent as the driven rein of the charger, unleashed of the fulgurate scribe's script flashed from dark intercepted to the entablature on which became imprinted our ten longings and undoings, now broken in the fire. (See, (and hear with thine afreshed eyes), e.g., "Pericles", in Plutarch's Parallel Lives; and for the higher criticism of Plutarch, see "Biography: II. Plutarch" by W.S. Ferguson, from Lectures on the Harvard Classics)

Or stay deaf, dumb and blind, the bump-rubber bell wizard of yellow rain through the holes in the cuckoo clock's mistress of pain, and eventually up-wind then to a threshed, pearly act of which enchanters of the elm and benumbed witches in the fury may call...

Unscheduled Chivalry

All because some unidentified male passenger had a sudden urge of chivalry, a New York subway train telescoped another yesterday. Two men were killed, 50 or so injured. And a pretty harrowing experience for passengers on both trains it must have been, especially those with any trace of claustrophobia. For once the trains crashed, lights cut off, smoke from numerous small blazes added olfactory effects to the screams of the injured and terrified, and there was panic among all these little rouged girls and dreary men of the Bronx bound for their office work downtown. All because some unidentified male passenger had a sudden urge of chivalry.

As the train in front left the 116th Street station, its automatic doors, which have no respect at all for humanity, came shut on a woman. Now, when a frail is caught in the doors of a New York subway, that's her fault. She should have been quicker, or played safe by waiting for the next train. Certainly the train crew takes it an affront to themselves personally and the whole Interborough. And for all they care she may ride that way, half in and half out. But not so our gallant fellow. He pulled the emergency cord and--ka-a-lambo!--the train behind was on top of the stalled train in front. Schedules, you see, make no allowance for chivalry.

Site Ed. Note: ...But of which you and I, we have reason to assume may be but that of the nixies again joking in full bloom.

We shall say it again, as we said it once before, on occasion: "He made the trains run on time" is a joke, a cruel, dark joke.

Once, not too long in the past, a Christmas Eve 'twas, we had the experience of heading out on a subway train, bound for an airport, to take us to a destination which we call "home" from a destination which we call "home". (It may sound abstruse, but it isn't, as one typically, when one considers it, always has two homes, one as a child, one as an adult, at least two.) Nighttime 'twas, plenty of time allowed to make for our flight, providing plenty of extra time for the searchers to do their work in the night.

But then came the nixie. Into our car of the multi-car train bounded a waif of the urban passage, bedraggled mendicant he was, announcing upon his entry: "Anybody got a smoke?" No one answered, fearing the worst in reply to his cause.

Station by station the train rattled on, as our bedraggled companion in muse studied himself with the greatest of ease at conversation with no one but the air in between himself and the rest of humanity. We scarce not gave attention too closely to his words for we might in them have heard that which the universe unnerves us with sycophantic awe, that which we choose to term instead psychopathic caw.

On and on hurled the high-screeching train into the night of Christian blight, through tunnel and tread, over hills of the dead, transversing water cool and grey, as the silent shells within passed unseeing that din, the crack that shall be, to fool and fay, the yells of the sign leaching sin.

Then it came, nixie's turn to sate its undying lust for fame yet again. A stop at the station to allow alight to the unmoving lane spinning yet faster than the train from which its passengers benight in the shadows with flaming strains.

And so, after a moment's lapse up jumped our companion, suddenly interrupted by some faint grab of reality which told him this was his stop. Thus through the doors he coursed, only then to exclaim anon some curse of fright, to relight, to pop through the left door to grab his bike was his cause, upon so doing the train came to a resounding semi-permanent and quite silent pause. Pulling it as his ship through the straits of Charybdis, the lips nevertheless coursed closed on his sail's spare-ribbed kiss.

But was he caught? In another time, another place, yes, perhaps, as above. But forced open he the door on this and there it did stay, with the machine's eye in ever watchful, yet wrathful, array, to hold the whole train simply in tristful time's prey; by its own did it pull the cord to stop its careering way.

The conductor called out for all to close the door if they could. Some tried by kicking, some tried but close not the train's dutiful door would. The train could not move. The clock, being impelled by the tides unsmoothed, kept saying it should. We sat, dumbfounded for minute after minute, our time growing short and shorter for the flight to our home. Forty-five minutes finally fully did pass, even the conductor having failed for some of it to comprehend the full jest of this our barred path.

Eventually, however, a switch was flipped, the train moved on, its undue stop's cause unshipped, disappearing to the night wind's call from which he came, so ill in mind that on him no one would dare lay blame.

So to the airport did we finally arrive, minus or plus 45 minutes was from or to our lives, now 40 minutes 'til flight would be onward to strive. "Cannot board now, too late for inspection, you see. For 45 minutes be the rule. Please leave." Though no one else much was around, and fully forty-five minutes time was certainly not required to examine our one bag home-bound, nevertheless the rule would abide for the sanctity of the fool of "good versus evil" which had the good god of the air on its side.

And so without much outward fluster or fuss, we aimed ourselves back on the subway, to spend what was left of the Eve in shallow disarray, though much to ourselves we did muster and cuss. What fate might have awaited that night otherwise we know not what; perhaps it was evil, perhaps it was naught.

The next day went not the greater more smoothly and so to home we did not get until after Christmas was with only a half hour left lit. But with candles o'er crudely dancing the votive bliss, by the fire we slept slowly that night, chilled to the bone by nixies ludely prancing in motive Donner and Blitz.

The man with the bike who cut our journey short likely had none, however, no motive that is but sport, no home to call home, none that was his but his bike and his troubles and all was unrest until somewhere on the line he had suffered nixies, unblessed. Having done so, he did become their last resort through which to hold court on the innocent, his stain the chained caress of the train's journey-abort.

Thus moral being: when encumbered by nixies, relax and be smart, better than dead as they to you practise their art of shame and shibboleth in Cain's learning in short.

A Word in Time

It would be positively unthinkable for the hospital bond election to fail to carry. For, of course, if the bond issue lost, there would be no PWA grant, and without the PWA grant there couldn't be any approximation of the hospital now planned. And all the gargantuan spade work of the doctors, led by Dr. Hamilton McKay, and all the hurried campaigning for funds, led by Mr. Wood, and all the quick and quiet perception of the Episcopalians largely attributable to the boards of St. Peter's and the Good Samaritan Hospitals--all this would go for naught if the bond issue were to lose.

And yet it can lose with the greatest of ease unless those people who favor it take the trouble to vote for it. And it so happens that if you aren't specially registered by this Saturday or the next, you simply won't, for all you'd like to, be permitted to vote. So far, at hardly a single precinct have as many as a hundred persons registered. Nobody knows how many of them are registered with the undisclosed intention of voting against the bond issue, but it is up to those who have the intention of voting for the bond issue to take no chances. On week days, they may hunt up the registrar at his home, and on the next and the following Saturdays the registration books will be found at the respective polling places.

Miles to Be Saved*

Now that the direct paved highway between Charlotte and Newton is about to materialize, another South Piedmont highway needs to be discussed. That is a continuation of the Charlotte-Denver Road on ten or twelve miles to a point near Newton or Maiden.

The Denver project so far has been considered local, and a very important piece of road building, but an extension of that road to the through highway to the west would put it up in the class of regional construction and be important to an innumerably larger number of citizens. State Highway Commissioner J. Mack Watson estimates that the short-cut would reduce the distance from, say, Charlotte to Newton by [indiscernible number--(239,974?)] miles. The same saving, of course, would apply as between Wilmington and Blowing Rock or Monroe and Morganton. It is an improvement much to be desired, and we feel sure it will not take long for the towns along the shorter route to emphasize this advantage and seek to put the road through.

Site Ed. Note: About all we could say 'bout that is that once when we was up at the Loveland Pass in front of the east side of the Eisenhower Tunnel stuck in a blizzard as fierce as you could imagine, we done throwed our first two gears of five in all in that blizzard pulling a trailer along way west in January, 1982. The little car made it on three gears the rest of the way, but was never quite the same afterwards. That's about all we could say 'bout that.

Symbolical Politics*

Outsiders, in their hatred for or adoration of Roosevelt, are likely to forget that in these bitter campaigns which are now taking place in Georgia, New York, Maryland and South Carolina, men as well as issues are at stake. The issues, indeed, seem to have resolved themselves into the one furious question of whether President Roosevelt shall or shall not influence state elections. On the line that he must never, never, never be allowed to do so, a great many people have taken their stands.

And for that reason politicians like Cotton Ed Smith in South Carolina, whom even his best friends admit to be something less than a statesman, and politicians like John J. O'Connor of New York, member of Tammany Hall and choice of Father Coughlin, acquire as symbols of anti-Rooseveltism a worthiness and a luster which they never in their own right possessed at all. Why, three-fourths of the people outside of South Carolina who are praying for Smith to win and humble Roosevelt couldn't tell you, to save their lives, what manner of men his two opponents are. [If they could, they'd pray harder.] And if any member of the audience knows who's running against O'Connor in New York, let him speak and enlighten the rest of us.

It's a pretty regrettable state of affairs when the people will swallow mediocre candidates or reject without examination candidates who might be superior simply because they want to get at the President. The only excuse we can advance is that the President appears to have been guilty of the same thing. He doesn't care about the successors of those he has marked out for oblivion so long as he can make his enemies feel the weight of his displeasure.

Site Ed. Note: For an analysis of the prickly military situation of the French in this period, five weeks before Munich, in the face of Germany's troop mobilization, the threats along the Czech border, and the Franco Insurgents, with Mussolini's active aid and Chamberlain's tacit appeasement, bringing Fascism to the south in Spain, see "Heebie-Jeebies for the French", August 21, 1938, an editorial by Cash from the Sunday book-page.

For further analysis on the Blum government, after the fall of France to Hitler in May, 1940, see "Blum's Aides", June 24, 1940, suggesting that while blame for the fall being laid at the time at the feet of the leftist government of Blum was not unjustified, ultimately primary responsibility lay with Daladier, Laval, and Flandin, the center to the extreme right.

France Turns Right

Two years ago, in the early days of Leon Blum's administration and with the Popular Front in control of the Chamber of Deputies, France got a New Deal. In a notable ten weeks' session most of the Popular Front's platform was enacted into law. It constituted, according to M. Blum, "the greatest social movement since the foundation of the Third Republic."

Today, the keystone of that social movement, the 40-hour week in industry, is in danger of removal. The unhappy experience has been that the 40-hour week, while a boon to labor, has caused prices to skyrocket beyond the reach of Jean Frenchman's pocketbook. The Socialists' claims that it would induce prosperity and eradicate unemployment have not been realized. Furthermore, uncertainty still hovers about the franc. Once this year already it has been devalued, and instead of having the effect of repatriating scared French capital, it had a contrary effect. It is said that a balanced budget is the one thing which would reassure the Frenchman that his money was safe in francs.

And the stability of the franc is immensely important for other than domestic reasons to the French Government. Loans are needed for national defense. The Government must have capital for its munitions factories, which were nationalized in the New Deal. France's allies--and her enemies, for that matter--must be shown that the nation is equal to this latest of its many emergencies, and that sentiment is compact behind an administration which would go counter to the preferences of the Popular Front.

The Practical Son*

When Jimmy Roosevelt disclosed in his reply to The Saturday Post's article, "Jimmy's Got It," that to escape taxes he had given a half-interest in his insurance business outright to his wife, and that his lawyer had assured him it was perfectly proper, The New York World-Telegram bethought itself of the President's message to Congress in 1937 on the topic of tax evasion. Going to the files, it dug out these apt passages:

"Methods of escape or intended escape from tax liability are many," the President told Congress. "Some are instances of avoidance which appear to have the color of legality; others are on the border line of legality; others are plainly contrary even to the letter of the law.

"All are alike in that they are definitely contrary to the spirit of the law. All are alike in that they represent a determined effort on the part of those who use them to dodge payments of taxes which Congress based on ability to pay. All are alike in that failure to pay results in shifting the tax load to the shoulders of others less able to pay and in mulcting the Treasury of the Governments just due."

Every sensible man knows that this was the merest balderdash. It's no fun to pay taxes, and no man's obligation is to pay a farthing more than the law requires. In saying otherwise, the President was deluding himself and blinding himself to realities. But not Jimmy.

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