The Charlotte News

Saturday, January 29, 1938


Site Ed. Note: Alright, now, listen up, ladies and men--and we use the terms loosely. Today's lesson is on the game of round ball. That's right, not medicine ball, but the old clockwork orange.

First question: How many sections are there in the orange?

No, two is wrong. Take four laps.

What? Sure it's cold, son, but that's why you're doing laps outside. Now, do what you're told before it becomes eight laps.

Alright, anyone else?

That's right, you listened, smart aleck. So with such a brain as that you can stand sixteen laps.

So, then, second question: What do we learn from viewing the rest of the page today regarding Miss Picklesimer?

Well, here's what we learn: Miss Picklesimer was what we term in the game as a ball-bucket sniffer, that is to say, someone who thinks it is her God-given right to own the ball, that is one who has the sworn duty to uphold family pride and the family name of Picklesimer by doing nothing but continuing to throw up the ball until she hits the bucket and to hell with her teammates, who, in her humble opinion, anyway, simply came out to watch the game of which the star is of course the one and only Picklesimer.

That's right. Miss Picklesimer is known to the game as the ball-pig.

Now then, how do we cure the ball-pig Picklesimers of their pernicious malady?

No, that's wrong, Wadsworth. We would not wish to place a bucket over their pug noses until they nearly suffocate. While, admittedly, the temptation is delectably nearly resistless, we must, as the good Book says, avoid temptation. For the school board would likely be impatient with that sort of thing, though Miss Picklesimer certainly deserves no less. Well, then, what to do?

No, not 27 laps. Picklesimer would consider that a reward. What kind of answer is that? Go do 33 laps.

Okay, then, here is the answer which seems the correct solution, as provided by an old coach who is well-known to the game, but shall remain nameless for obvious reasons:

What he did, in the wide valley of the Tone above Taunton, with a Picklesimer sort of pig-sniffer, a kind of one-man air force, you might say, was to take the Gold team, of which his Picklesimer was a member, completely off the floor, leaving the Blue team in place. This was an experiment in falconry. For his Picklesimer was then left alone on the old pine to stand as one against the Blue team. And, as we read it described, the Picklesimer never again played the part of Picklesimer the Picked Pig again.

Mark the lesson well.

Now, speaking of the old round ball game, that is the clockwork orange routine, we thought today we would also impart to you precisely how the game was invented.

It went like this:

One day, we ourselves were out in our grandmamá's peach orchard, somewhere in the middle part of Georgia. We were assigned to the task of picking peaches from the peach trees in the peach orchard. Now, it was a hot and humid, frothing kind of day out in the peach orchard there. And, we felt a little lazy, even queasy. But, we knew we could not eat of the peach, for to do so meant a good whacking from old grandmamá, who regularly counted the peaches on the trees before sending us out at break of dawn to pick them from the orchard; returning from which, we were forced to count by ones every last single peach, and should there be even a solitary fuzzy missing, it was a fateful trip to the woodshed for our behinds.

So, being most fearful of such, we dutifully set about to the labor of our task on this sultry, smoky, fateful afternoon; the year we having forgotten precisely, but, as we recall, Ulysses Simpson Grant was our President.

Now, we bent over several times, picking first the peaches from the ground, as those were plainly the ripest and juiciest, keeping a precise count as we went. And, somewhere around the 74th peach, we discovered that our back was ailing a bit, we having felt a twang of pain even as far back as the 17th peach. So, we decided that it would be quite a lot easier, you see, simply to hang the peach basket on the tree trunk, and sit down squat on the ground, and toss up the peaches into the peach basket.

Well, while more comfortable to our physiognomy, this proved harder than it seemed it would when first the thought struck us. We kept missing the basket, needing more thrust in our throw. So, we took to jumping up from our squat position and throwing each peach toward the basket in a kind of two-hand set. We called it the "raspess", for the simple reason that we were fond of raspberries.

Now, the first several attempts caused a great problem, for the peaches missed the basket, some either hitting the tree trunk or, on other occasions, plopping down to the ground, causing us, to pass the time, musingly to start chanting to ourselves as they did so, "'ere peach, you missed"; after awhile, becoming tired of the full phrase, shortening it down to "'ere peach". Then when it would go in, we would simply say, "Amen".

Well, directly, we noticed that we had only about 98 peaches in the basket, and approximately 73 on the ground, bruised and in various states of inedibility.

Moreover, the bees were now congregating around the exposed meat of the peach and feasting on same, while also beginning to alight on our arms and mouths and various other places where the peach squeezings had deposited themselves from our throwing the peaches, and missing. This thus resulting stinging sensation was highly unpleasant.

So, eventually, we took the basket into our grandmamá. So displeased was she with the day's harvest that she became somewhat stewed and told us simply she would deal with it later, and to go to our room. As she did so, she seemed to slip into a dream state, with a decided twinkle in her eye, as if she had some sudden idea.

And, after four weeks in our room, we were ordered to return to the orchard, grandmamá insisting now that we should simply continue with this peach throwing business. Wherefore, as time passed, we found that the more we tried this routine, the better at it we got, like clockwork, in fact; hence the idea for calling it "clockwork orange", a title we invented ourselves for the game, peaches being orange. It also derives from the custom of our having been raised on the works of Amadeus Mozart from the time when we were but three years old. (We were for a time ourselves being cultivated as a prodigiously great concert pianist, but when grandmamá got mad one day at our jazzed-up version of Beethoven's Für Elise, adding lyrics about a chipmunk named Fred, and then started insisting on injecting the inevitable, but little known, T-sharp note into Eroica, well, grandmamá broke our right arms. Thus ended our budding virtuoso career as a pianist, quite fortuitously so, however, as it led to the discoveries of which we now impart.) We had thought also of calling the peach basket tossing "Requiem, for a Heavy Wait", but that did not seem as well to fit the process as the appellation on which we once and for all settled.

Anyway, the more we sought to throw the peaches, the better at it we became. And, eventually, the neighborhood children, seeing us having so much fun picking the peaches in the orchard and tossing them into the basket in this fashion, started helping us with the work. They even started keeping a scorecard on how many they could successfully get in the basket versus the misses. And, so absorbing it was, it became a kind of neighborhood competition to see who had the best percentage.

Well, innately curious, grandmamá came out to the orchard, having heard the gleeful sounds of the neighborhood children screaming and calling out such things as "'ere peach" and "Amen", "what a shot" and "kill the Ref", the latter phrase having come about when one of the children, Ref Lumpkin, brought a whistle one afternoon and started blowing it every time a peach missed the whole basket and fell behind the tree, or even when someone pushed someone down trying to get around their blocking maneuvers, as competition had become so fierce that some of the children sought to block the shots of the others at the basket.

Grandmamá, looking on with a sly but salubrious grin, was quite impressed with our industry, and decided to start charging the children to participate in this game we had developed.

Before long, we were able simply to do nothing ourselves but teach the game, as the other children did all the work, so engrossed they became in their competition. Indeed, so fierce did the competition become, that some of the children would start passing the peaches to each other before the tosses in order to get around the blocking maneuvers, producing a weaving movement of a sort which began to resemble a contra-dance, it became so fluid, or even a Viennese waltz which grandmamá took us to see in our budding virtuoso days--all of which had the effect of creating a most squashy array of smashed peaches all about the orchard. But, they were paying for it, these lessons we provided, and so that was alright. Grandmamá was quite pleased, racking up the best profits the orchard had ever obtained, far more than in the former time when our living was made by simply selling the peaches out on the road.

One day, a fellow from Missouri happened through the orchard. He had a mustache and a wavy shock of white curly hair--eventually wrote a book about it all, bringing our group great fame, even if achieved under different names from our own. And, instead of peaches and a basket, he used a fence and whitewash to make the same point about genuine industry and how to get ahead of the game. He never mentioned us at all in fact, and set his story in Missouri, not Georgia. That's okay though, for it's the game that counts, not how it's told.

Well, time went by, and people from all around came to view and participate in the spectacle, we ourselves simply sitting and collecting the admission charges the while, occasionally throwing a peach just to let them know who was straw boss. Eventually, after we had invented a device by which to send messages out to other communities by virtue of waves tuned to a certain frequency, we even started to provide commentary about these competitions. One time, 80,000 people showed up. It was quite an afternoon.

But, as all good things must come to an end after they are co-opted by someone else who provides some new and better wrinkle, one day, this fellow from Massachusetts stopped in to see what was going on, having heard over the frequency waves our commentary, this being after we invented a tungsten bulb to light the whole orchard for night-tossings, as we dubbed them, making it a substantially cooler proposition by which to pick the peaches. Anyway, this fellow said his name was Naismith, a professor of gymnastics and history or something or other.

Well, first thing you know, we heard that Naismith had taken our idea and developed it into a game with a stitched together leather ball, introducing it as a winter sport in New England. And, of course, you probably are aware of the rest. People started flocking to his game, and our contest matches, of which you probably never heard, consequently fell off to nothing. And, therefore, we had to return to selling peaches on the road until the Great Depression came on, when the peaches didn't bring a fit price, and grandmamá, after the bank went bust and lost all the savings accumulated of the fees collected from the training mission of the game we had started, and the mortgage was bought up by a corrupt swindler who threatened to foreclose right away, had to sell the orchard to a fellow named Roosevelt who passed through one day and offered her a pretty price for it because of the hot springs on our land.

So, that's the way the game began. We invented it ourselves, but have never received credit. That's okay. For, as we said, it's the game that's important, not who gets the credit.

They did name a whole street after our efforts, however, over in Atlanta, thanks to our industry with regard to the orchard, and in recognition of the creative invention we brought to the work; even the license plates of the State of Georgia to this day carry a reference to our art of peach picking.

Which brings us back to Miss Picklesimer. Our own fit punishment for a Picklesimer such as that would be to get her to recite 29 times, without stuttering or faltering,--in which case, should she do so, she would have to start over--the following interrogatory: "How many peaches could Picklesimer pitch, if Picklesimer pitched a pick of peaches into a fickle rhymer's fitch, with a leather ball full of stitches, but without the aid of her other four tickle-limer litched rich fit feathers?"

That would teach her.

Even so and nevertheless, it is the case that it is a far better thing to be a Picklesimer even, than to try to lose weight, we glean, by the route below considered of the benzene. For benzene is a derivative of coal tar, and actually a cleaning fluid. Somehow, therefore, we suspect that benzene may be a malapropism, though one would likely lose a fair amount of weight quickly enough, we can imagine, by ingesting great quantities of petroleum-based cleaning fluids. Yet, we don't care to find out, candidly, ourselves, and neither should you. So, we agree with the advice: Stay off the hops and bend a little. Honi soit qui mal y pense.

And, if you cannot bend, do the game of jumping jacks. We ourselves invented that particular game when we were but twelve years old. It was difficult, we admit, to learn, and also to teach others how to get the arms and the legs all going in the same alternate directions at one time. It took us quite a lot of time to perfect the game of jumping jacks, but when we did, they called us "The Flash"; and then just a few years later a musical group over in England made up a song about it. Anyway, we had to look in the mirror a lot, actually, to get there. Once understood, though, why, it's quite simple. But more on that some other day.

Now, then, arms up.

Keep Bending, Girls

New England physicians are experimenting with a drug which promises to be almost as great a boon for human vanity as that elusive elixir, a hair tonic that would actually grow hair on bald heads. A benzene derivative, the stuff reduces appetite and speeds up metabolism so that fat people can literally shed pounds almost as rapidly as they desire. A 45-year-old woman, 95 pounds overweight, lost 48 pounds in six months.

But the sulphanilamide case taught the medical and chemical professions the lesson of ultra-cautiousness. They're not going to let the public in on this new reducing drug, which makes you feel good, too, until they've made double sure that it won't bring on the hives or softening of the arteries or decomposition of the bone structure. Meanwhile, sisters, you'd better keep on watching the calories and bending down.

Their Own Money*

The South Carolina House of Representatives Friday one-sidedly voted down an amendment to the general appropriations bill which would have given its members a travel allowance of five cents a mile for every trip to and from Columbia to attend sessions.

Is a South Carolina Representative, then, a less hungry soul than a member of the United States Congress, which regularly appropriates 20 cents a mile for travel allowance? Does he yearn less hotly for a little cut of velvet? Or to put it otherwise, is he a fellow more notably addicted to honesty and integrity than a Congressman? Is he more tender in his conscience for the public funds?

Maybe so, but, to be candid about it, we doubt it. Merely to vote himself such a good thing, he has to meet a hazard which the Congress does not have to meet. In brief, he is spending local money, money that the voters back home do not think of as accommodatingly provided by a remote and inexhaustible Treasury, but which they know darn well they have themselves to pay out, right there on the spot in South Carolina. There'd be a yell you could hear all the way to Waxhaw if the taxpayers had to pay to get the Legislators to and from Columbia.

Our One-Man Army

To the astounded admiration we have felt for the Panay, sunk by Japanese bombing planes, we add now an even more breathless admiration for Acting Ambassador John M. Allison, slapped by a Japanese soldier at Nanking.

According to the official Japanese account of the matter, and of course we cannot in common politeness presume to doubt it--according to that account, you will remember, the Panay, drawing 200 tons and mounting one three-pound gun, went steaming all alone into the upper reaches of the Yangtze and boldly, and without provocation, opened fire on the whole Japanese navy.

And now, as the dispatches have it, Japan is preparing formally to refuse to discipline the soldier who slapped the Ambassador, and to take a "very grave view of the incidence of Allison." For according to the official Japanese version, it appears that this Ambassador of ours went down to a Japanese barracks, accompanied by no one but a Chinese woman and a professor in Nanking University, and, surrounded by uniformed Japanese troops with weapons in their hands, proceeded boldly and without provocation "grossly to insult" a Japanese officer.

A little indiscreet, both of them, no doubt of it--but, mates, whatta ship and whatta man!

The Presumption Runs--

To Hudson Robinson, Mecklenburg County Negro, whose execution was to the take place yesterday, Governor Hoey has granted a reprieve. The Governor's reasons are (1) that he finds a "strong conflict" between the testimony of State and defense witnesses, and (2) that the condemned man's attorney has new evidence to offer.

The Governor is warranted, of course, in taking every precaution against letting a man be put to death who doesn't deserve to die. At the same time, the version of Robinson's crime which the jury took as the true version made it out to be murder, and pretty deliberate murder at that. The defense showed that he had had some argument in a cafe, left, got his gun, returned and shot the cafe proprietor, a Negro, three times, killing him. As he fled by a rear entrance, he ran into another Negro, a totally innocent bystander. Him, too, he shot and killed. He was not tried for that.

The jury convicted him of murder in the first degree, and we can tell you that when a Mecklenburg jury convicts a Negro of the first-degree murder of another Negro, it isn't likely to have been a second-degree affair. Error in these inter-racial killings is likely to be on the side of lenience rather than the reverse.

Quite the Opposite*

The National Labor Relations Board is not one of our heroes, and the last thing we intend to do is to defend it as presently organized and functioning. Nevertheless, fact is fact, and there is considerable doubt that Senator Burke, Nebraska Democrat, was speaking factually when he told a Senate subcommittee yesterday that,

"Many prudent and patriotic business men are coming to feel that they cannot long continue to operate if they must remain subject to what they consider to be the outrageous treatment inflicted upon them by this board and its horde of examiners, investigators and other representatives."

Without being able to disprove this, we are bound to say that it simply isn't so. Saving the die-hards and the constitutionally opposed, there are signs that ever so many prudent and patriotic business men have made the discovery that they can continue to operate without undue difficulties, taking the National Labor Relations Board, the Wagner Act and organized labor in stride. There may have been a time when the militancy of labor darkened the business outlook, but right now most business men would swap this quiescent lull for just a touch of prosperity, no matter if it did set labor on the march and bring the organizers, the examiners and the investigators down on their necks again.

Bad Word

For the Federal Government to collect a tax on gasoline and oil, says Frank L. Dunlap, State Highway Commissioner, and not to hand out the revenue to the states to be spent on roads, would be "the most obvious type of diversion of highway revenues."

Okay, call it diversion, just to be agreeable. At the time this "emergency" tax on gas and oils was imposed, the Government likewise put a tax on cosmetics. It is diversion, we take it, for this revenue not to be segregated and spent on beauty parlors. Another "emergency" tax was on sporting goods. By Mr. Dunlap's reasoning, it is diversion for tax receipts from this source not to be used to provide ping-pong tables as a facility of the more abundant life.

Mr. Dunlap's argument, reduced to an absurdity, is precisely that--an absurdity. And yet, it is a telling argument, nevertheless, in that diversion is a word that has acquired a bad name and is a whole argument in itself. The fact that in this instance the President is recommending diversion of highway appropriations to the balancing of the budget probably won't make any difference. Diversion is wrong, even if the corollary is that it's wrong to balance the budget.

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