The Charlotte News

Tuesday, October 14, 1941


Site Ed. Note: Yesterday, incidentally, we meant "supply", not "supplies", but the way we had it offers an interesting twist anyway and so we'll leave it.

Today's page has a tear in the lower left corner. To fill it in, that paragraph of "American Blood" says, "And the government [of Britain], believing that an attempted invasion of the continent at this time would be a disaster, has tried to appease its critics with bombing attacks in the west and driblets of aid to Russia." The piece again is pushing for a strike on Japan, not only for the obvious reason of eliminating Japan as a threat in the Pacific, but also to free 500,000 Russian soldiers at Vladivostok to fight Hitler on the western front.

But, besides the strategic problem of mobilizing ships, carriers and planes across 5,000 miles of ocean, the big question remained whether Stalin would cooperate and risk a two-front war, risking substantial counter-attack from Japan, enabling a pincer movement against Russia, something the Japanese since their July 2 High Command meeting were quite prepared to oblige, and eagerly so against their old feared enemy, lately put to rest with the precarious Russo-Japanese non-aggression pact.

The answer, unless Stalin was completely insane, was probably not--just as he didn't start bombing Tokyo after Pearl Harbor, but left it to the tenuously shaky but daringly successful Doolittle raid in April, 1942 to accomplish from bombers not equipped either for the distance or the take-off from the short carrier decks.

Roosevelt, by the reports, had shown signs in late May 1941 of contemplating such a raid, asking, after viewing a film, what would happen to the Japanese cities if bombed by a squadron of Flying Fortresses, and, receiving the answer that they would go up like tinderboxes, offered his tersely ominous reply: "That's what I thought."

But no raid was deemed feasible then, without Russian support or at least permitted use by American bombers of Vladivostok as a launching point. And, to get the planes to Vladivostok from Alaska meant the considerable risk of being spotted by the Japanese. The Nazis had spies in Tokyo. The Nazis had spies in Moscow. The Nazis had spies in Washington and in Mexico City. Inevitably, they had them, too, in all likelihood, in Vladivostok. So, the trick was to get the planes in position, without triggering a pre-emptive attack by the Japanese. It was obviously deemed not feasible. Stalin, in any event, probably, for that very reason of fearing Japanese counter-attack, would not allow it.

In any event, it did not occur.

Was there any realistic way, other than the way FDR and Secretary of State Hull proceeded via diplomacy through to the last hours before the attack, to stop it? We leave it to you to ponder.

Ms. Bassett holds forth today again, this time on Vermont and the Green Mountain Boys' realism with respect to Hitler and Nazism. They weren't the only ones of course, as, by now, and for some time, certainly since the bombing of Britain had begun in September of 1940, at least half the country, and by summer, 1941, two-thirds, were on board with aid to Britain. Sending sons, husbands, brothers, fathers, to war, however, was another proposition. But even that realization was beginning ever more daily to be recognized as a probable necessity by much if not most of the country, old Monroe there over in Statesville being perhaps one of the exceptions to prove the rule. From the sound of it, Monroe hadn't quite received the news yet that Britain had suffered the loss of 40,000 people during nine successive months of bombing, and only now was having respite while the Nazi shells were directed instead at the stout Russians defending their homes.

Ms. Bassett's mention of Fort Ticonderoga brings to mind our venture up that way on New Year's Day, 1978. Our little blue roadster wouldn't get its cylinders sparked one morning and so our rambling pal and we were trying to push it on up the hill there, in ice-freezing weather, it being 30 below zero, and a foot of snow having fallen the night before while we were in the movies. Our pal was a former Marine and he'd gone to the movies looking for some candy. When we went in, the ground was dry. When we came out, it was snowed up pretty solid.

Well, not following coach's advice and having taken a good dose of milk before undertaking this strenuous bit of unforeseen morning exercise, pushing it on up the hill there, with our breath forming icicles before it got well beyond our lips, and our lids becoming laden steadily with cakes of frosty droplets, we lost our breakfast right there, coloring the snow with a pale yellow, the same jaundiced pallor by now which no doubt engorged our mieliepapped mien, struggling to imbue our breast with imbrued revitalization with every stabbing sting to our lungs from the shrill air pervading there in earshot of Ticonderoga.

Throwing in the towel finally, as, despite our youth, we were both about to keel over in near fatal suspiration, we decided, perhaps, that the local towtruck driver might have a better solution to the problem, and so we summoned him.

Here he came, fully a Falstaffian hale-hearty fellow of obvious guth-strength, and probably possessed of a gizzard, at 7:00 a.m., cheery-eyed, and rosy-cheeked, in his shirtsleeves.

"It's kind of warm this mornin', i'n't?" he inquired, as if rhetorically, in basso ostinato tones.

We had to say that we hadn't quite noticed that, but he quickly adjourned our doubt by pointing out that a few days earlier it had been fifty below. This, he said, was the practical equivalent of summer weather.

Okay. Let's get her cranked and we'll be heading on down south again then as we don't wish to miss the red sails in the sunset. Meanwhile you can just sit back in the sunshine here and watch the bathing beauties pass by on the street whilst you hold up the reflecting pan to insure even rays.

As fast as you could pull a rabbit or even a roadster out of your hat, this godsend of mankind got that German roadster with two trunks started and we thanked him and went on our way.

Ye all come back.

Well, later that morning, we saw a sign, as we were traversing the Green Mountains. Sign said maple syrup. That sounded pretty good after our morning travail. And, besides, we were now getting a little hungry. So, without putting much thought to the matter, we just turned our roadster right off the road, to the right right there, and went to park. There was, however, one little fact which had escaped our notice as we made the incautious turn: the road surface had been scraped dry already and the rest was beginning to melt. In fact, we had been steadily proceeding for some time over a macadamized surface as free from ice as you could possibly imagine. But, being in the stirrups so long and having had our milk all stirred up like that earlier, we were sufficiently hypno-tranced, lacking nourishment, not to notice that the maple syrup store's parking lot was not.

And the path to the tree right off the side of the road in the parking lot was not scraped away at all. Thus, despite four good disk brakes, each of which was in proper clasping order, (maybe save a groove or two where we had let the pad get too low and grind haplessly into the disk a little, sort of like a phonograph record spurled as if dragging across it to its windlass via a bad needle), as we had checked them ourselves, nothing, not even dropping the ruddervator rope, would stop our slow motion flight right into that large oak tree, or maybe it was a maple. Not full throttle, mind you, did we start that slide, but enough impulsive moment, if calculated even by the slight 1,000 lb. weight of the massed object of resistance times its 20 mph celerity, that moment which we normally computed in our heads before each fateful turn of the wheel from within the wheelhouse, but now having been thrown off our moment by the ice before us, with which to make a nice crease across the front end of the roadster wherein the tree had fit its trunk perfectly as if nesting there for all time previous.

The rest of the trip, therefore, was marked by the sight of a subtly redesigned front bumper and hood which gave the appearance to the former streamlined beauty a nuance worthy of a prize-fighter after a particularly brutal and face-reshaping bout, one taking place in the pellamountains--maybe as Nova looked after being dispensed from the ring by Louis. Even Durante couldn't quite compete for the prize.

Later that day, we visited the home and museum of FDR at Hyde Park.

We kept that maple syrup for years. In fact, we may still have some. Drop by sometime and we'll share it with you. It keeps a long time in the little plastic brown jugs in which they pack it.

Within a couple of weeks, incidentally, we had taken our portable oxy-acetylene torch, and, with a little patience, re-acquainted the nose of the roadster with a nudging good time, disabusing it of its acquaintanceship with the oak tree. Or was it a maple? All was good as new, untwisted and realigned.

Ya'll be good, now. And drive safely.

Framed Edition
[Return to Links-Page by Subject] [Return to Links-Page by Date] [Return to News<i>--</i>Framed Edition]
Links-Date -- Links-Subj.