The Charlotte News

Thursday, November 25, 1937


Site Ed. Note: "Not All Lost—Perhaps" explains that the War to End All War in the Lost Generation caused the hedging, up to the last possible dodge of reality, from declaration of that which was to all, save the pitiful, plainly a killing field of war—a dodge and hesitancy which continued of course even into the 1960’s—the same which caused our country even then at that later time, despite the visible and mounting evidence to the contrary continuing to roll in daily, to label it the Vietnam "conflict".

Well, at least, we have made strides in these 70 years—we are sensible enough now to avoid euphemism and at least call a war a war.

The reference to "Tommy Adkins" in "Thank You, Mr. Carlisle", is from Kipling’s "Tommy" within Barrack-Room Ballads, the one right after "Danny Deever":

I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Adkins", when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Adkins", when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Adkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Adkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool--you bet that Tommy sees!

Well, nobody really forgot ye, Tommy, not this time, not really. So stop yer cryin’ in yer beer and tryin’ to foist yer miserable and horrible tearin' lot o’ memories on the rest of us. We do understand a little, maybe a little, this time, Tom. And those who foist the most, we find, have little more to foist, in reality, than the rest of us, though we mean not to be unkind. For we all stood the frontlines, Tommy, this time around, this time around, we did. We all were there, right there on the front lines, and there, some of us were as mere children, within adults were hid—right on the crackin' o'er yer buttons' muse-to-God apace with ye, Tom, thanks to yer crazed-wild gen'rals who'd seen too much hackin' and cuttin' from the fusillade in yer face gone. So, don’t forget it, Tommy, next time ye want to cry in yer beer for all yer rotten lot o’ luck 'n' memories we gave ye there. We were 'ere with ye, boy, truly we were. Sometimes, too, those who foist the most merely hoist the bitter host; and the ones with the most to toast, rarely of it boast; at least so we find, Tom. Just remember it—and, if ye will, we’ll remember you and all ye rotten lot o' luck, Tom, all ye rotten lot o' luck.

This Roaring Town

Judge Wilson Warlick has his reasons for thinking that Charlotte is an even bigger town than our Clarence Kuester thinks it is. It must, he allowed, have at least 110,000 people, in support of which he cited the town's crime rate.

But the Judge is much too modest in his estimate. If murders in Charlotte be taken as a measure of its probable population, then it's a whole heck of a sight bigger than any measly 110,000. As witness: According to the Uniform Crime Reports of the FBI, New York in 1936 had 329 cases of murder and non-negligent homicide. Charlotte had 55. Ergo, Charlotte should have about one-sixth as many people as Manhattan, or say 1,260,000. Not bad: not half bad.

But we can show better than that for this year. In the first nine months of 1937, Grand Rapids, Michigan (a town we seize on practically at random) had 2 murders. Charlotte had 20. Therefore, Charlotte's population should be about ten times that of Grand Rapids, or say 2,000,000 souls!

But if the judge really wants to go at the matter in a cosmic way, let him set Charlotte beside London. In 1936, the British metropolis had 27 murders. And so, by that measure, our population must be whopping up somewhere above 18,000,000!

A Useful Dodge

The petition to force the wage-and-hour bill out of the hands of the recalcitrant Rules Committee and on to the floor of the House made slow progress yesterday. From 175 signatures it crawled up to only 189. And at that rate it will be a long time before the necessary 218 will be secured, and even that will not assure passage of the bill.

If ever there was an ironic situation, this is it. According to the stories coming out of Washington when the Congress met, there were already enough votes pledged to carry the bill. Yet now when the Rules Committee refuses to report it out, enough signatures cannot be secured to a petition to force it out! But there is no mystery here, of course. And what lies behind it is the simple fact that a large part of the members of the House who are pledged to vote for it don't really approve of it and had rather not see it enacted. They have swallowed it merely because of political considerations. And if the Rules Committee continues to balk and enough signatures to report it out can't be secured--why, the thing can be killed without having to take the active step of voting against it.

Congress, in brief, is tacitly endorsing what more less resembles a sit-down strike. And what is stranger still is that the President and his lieutenants do not seem to be actively engaged in attempting to bring the lagging Congressmen around to signing the petition. Can it possibly be that, seeing the increasing dislike of the AFL and of business for the measure, the administration is privately willing to let it die, if the killing can be hung on the Rules Committee?


The President in his Thanksgiving proclamation mentions "abundant harvests and the blessings of stable employment." But the abundant harvests, alas--and particularly the abundant harvest of cotton--do not seem entirely unmixed blessings, and, according to the latest indices, employment is not really quite so stable as it might be, either.

However, we do not mean to carp. We are surrounded by problems and demons quite as menacing as and certainly more complex than those which surrounded the Pilgrims forebodingly in the dark New England forest 316 years ago. But, like them, too, we have many things for which there is good cause to be thankful. Despite the prophets of disaster, we have not gone Red or White, and there is little real prospect that we are going to. We are not at war, and the national will to stay out is so strong that we may reasonably hope that we are not soon going to be--perhaps never. Not many of us are actually hungry. We have our wide land still with its rich fields and its almost inexhaustible resources. We have at least a decent amount of good-will and intelligence among us. If we quarrel, we yet manage to keep from shooting one another down. And, in short, and at the worst of it, we probably have good reason to think ourselves the world's most favored and happy people.

Site Ed. Note: We were once asked among some friends, twenty years ago this week, going around the table, to describe the most memorable Thanksgiving we ever had. When it came time for our part to tell, we didn’t have to think too long, though darkly it was as a memory. It still remains our most memorable, and so, to be honest, we had to provide it: that Thursday, November 28, 1963.

To void the mind a bit of the darkness besetting that week, our papa gathered us up and took us to Durham for a football game, one postponed from the previous Saturday. We’ve referred to it before and so we’ll simply show you a little bit about it here.

We sat there in the stadium and watched, and, we admit, though frivolous it was, said a wee prayer for the kicker, there toward the end of it, to kick it right squarely through the uprights, the piggie-wobbler, to score the goal, to win the game, there in the stadium, just 12 miles up the road from where, 25 and a half months earlier, just that long, the President had spoken. The victory for either side meant a trip to Jacksonville to the Gator Bowl, and, in the case of the victor that cool afternoon, the first such trip since 1950, when they had lost in the Cotton Bowl to Rice.

We had an unusually delayed dinner for the day, not until around 8:00 that night. We only recall of it once looking to our left, to a photograph which sat on a mahogany drop-top desk, an arm’s length from where we sat. The man in the photograph was wearing a Panama hat, and, though long since passed away, possessed a knowing, reassuring, albeit slightly acerbic, grin, as he stared back at us.

And so, it was quite different from any other Thanksgiving we ever had.

Three years and three weeks earlier, the newspapers were like this and this. That is what we try to retain more than the rest of it, that which came later before and around that dark Thanksgiving of 1963. But it is a difficult thing to do, Tommy, very difficult.

"Thank You, Mr. Carlisle"

It's "Economic Royalist" and
"Tory," sir, as well;
But it's thank you, Mr. Carlisle,
when business goes to smash.

Thoughts somewhat like Mr. Tommy Adkins' when the guns began to shoot must have struck Messrs. Wendell Willkie of Commonwealth & Southern and Floyd L. Carlisle of Consolidated Edison in the last few days. All of a sudden they have been lowered from the New Deal's peerage, consisting entirely of Lord Macaulays, to the characteristically American rank of good citizens and prominent industrialists. Not only have they had invitations to the White House; they have had the President's interested and undivided attention after they got there. They have gone forth saying that "the President and we are in substantial agreement;" and it looks, masters, as though the Fourth New Deal was actually beginning to take visible form.

What brings it about, of course, is the makings of another sharp depression--at a time when the government simply cannot afford to combat a depression. The tables have turned and it is the New Deal now that is in need of a breathing spell, business that is in position to supply it. As an inducement to the power companies to undertake at last the three billions of capital construction they are reported to have put off in mortal fear of the New Deal's intentions, and as a face-saver for the administration, a trade has been made. If the power companies will endorse in principle that prudent-investment theory of rate making, the government will maintain the present ratio, roughly, of producing only one part of power to private industry's nine parts.

It is, we trow, a bargain well struck. Lower rates are desirable, as it is for the government, with its right of eminent domain, to refrain from actively competing with its energetic citizens. To be sure, the question may be raised of the President's ability to bind the legislative branch of the government with a promise not to step out and dot the land with power plants; but we think it answers itself. The impetus for active competition has come primarily from Mr. Roosevelt himself and a few overzealous henchmen. The people at large have either disapproved or been disinterested.

Holding Fast to Harry

Every little scrap of information about the workings of WPA, that mystery to which only Messer Harry Hopkins holds the clue, we seize upon and file away in the hope of somehow piecing together a fair understanding of the whole. For the files, and, rather than for the purpose of making any enlightening comment, let it be set down that a survey in New York City in June, 1937, showed that 81 per cent of the people on WPA at that time had been on WPA since the last survey in December, 1935.

This would seem to show that once a WPAer, always a WPAer. Booms, spurts, reemployment cannot shake them loose. The probability is that, assured of steady and easy jobs with Messer Hopkins, these long-time WPA workers have lost the incentive and the initiative to look for something better.

But we promised not to draw conclusions from it and only to present it as information. Very well. A survey in New York City, in June, 1937, showed that 81 per cent of the people on WPA at that time had been on WPA since the last survey in December, 1935.

Not All Lost--Perhaps

It would be easy to be cynical about the Brussels conference. For on the face of the matter, it seems a flat and dismal failure. From the standpoint of practical action, to be realistic, it was bound to be a failure from the beginning. For there was nothing practical the signatories of the Nine-Power Treaty could do to halt Japan's expedition into China--short of resort to war. And it is a somewhat dubious proposition that even resort to war could be counted on to stop it. In any view, the last case would have been worse than the first for everybody, including China.

But it is possible to think that the conference was not really a complete and utter failure. One of the things that explains why the wars which are raging in the world are all undeclared is the fact that the word "war" has come to have an ugly sound for everybody, including, apparently, even Mussolini, Hitler, and the Japanese brass-hats. And that is probably due in large part to its denunciation over the last twenty years by an interminable list of conferences, all of which were set down as failures.

The Brussels conference at least added another denunciation of undeclared war to that already entered by the League of Nations, and also added the United States to the list of official denouncers. Perhaps that will eventually have some effect in making the fact of war as repulsive as its name has become.

Site Ed. Note: The rest of the day's page is here.

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