The Charlotte News

Sunday, November 28, 1937


Site Ed, Note: Le temps was out of joint; s'introduit demain et demain son pas petit…

Choqués, choqué nous devons trouver des cachettes des armes en vue de la guerre civile parmi "The Hooded Men", as described below in a bit of French, (pardon us for which, monsieur et madame, should we have mistranscribed any of the little squigglies in "Fete de Paris"—for we took spanish and latin, ourselves, plus some occasional English, once in awhile, but sans Français, ergo, we had to pick it up on the side, mainly en la cinematique, pero no parlez y communique cum facilité, pero comprehende vous un poquito mas).

La réponse, mon homme, souffle dans le ventilateur.

Mais la réponse du ventilateur dépendra de quel côté du ventilateur vous vous tenez.

And should you wish a quick digest on that which has led to most war, big and small, macro and micro, take a gander at the piece by Dorothy Thompson of this date. It translates rather well through any time, from the guns of August through the Gulf of Tonkin, through even the present. A world, perhaps, not just a handful of countries, or even states or portions of states within some of those countries, separated by a common language.

We tend to agree with the letter writer who identified themselves as "Southerner", though we think a more apt nom de plume might have been "Human".

We once had a friend, now passed away by the natural process of age, who, as a little boy, was terribly reticent, so much so that in the first winter session of his schooling, sometime circa 1917, he could not, for the life of him, figure what it was which all the other little children were doing standing over by the window-wall each morning—and so, he sat at his desk, freezing, each morning.

One day, someone asked him why it was that he didn’t join the other children over by the radiator next to the window-wall—at which point he understood why it was that they were where they were. So he did.

Later, in 1980, this same friend was somewhere in South Carolina with his wife in a motel room, to which they had just checked in, and into which they were in process of bringing their luggage from their car, leaving open the motel door on the first floor as they so did.

Our friend had just stepped into the bathroom, when, suddenly, he heard his wife, the same age as our friend, emit a blood-curdling scream.

He emerged to see a twentyish looking young man holding a gun to his wife’s forehead as she coldly stared the man down. The man pulled the trigger; the gun did not fire.

Our friend, unarmed, as he was throughout his life, stared coldly and blankly at this individual encompassed by this scene, and simply, in his rich demonstrative baritone, of which his wife often complained as carrying far too far, though not on this occasion, a baritone enriched in the church choir, quite therefore unbefitting his slight appearance and stature, but which to its hearer would be unforgettable in its gravity, stated: "You get the hell out of here, right now."

The young man, still possessed of his pezoliver, as our friend used to term them, hearing this command, seeing the situation as it was, two against one, promptly performed a pirouette and ran away into the evening air, gun and all.

We live and we learn.

The Easy Way

Illness of Superior Court judges may prevent the holding of the Mecklenburg criminal term scheduled to open December 6, in which event the docket, so recently purged and brought down to a minimum, will become crowded again and the mill of justice thrown behind in its grinding. Court officials fear that by the first of the year some 300 cases may be awaiting trial.

Well, that would be too bad, but the court can always avail itself of the method of whittling the docket down to size that it used last Spring and Summer. At that time, with 700 cases booked, some of them years old, it was hopelessly behind. Then--snap, snap snap--and the court was almost up with itself. By the familiar method of the nolle prosse--which is to say by calling the whole thing off--it had swept more than half of its indictments into the wastebasket and let some hundreds of accused wrongdoers go scot free.

If the docket gets out of control again, the nolle prosse procedure may be invoked as needed. It's perfectly legal, though to be sure we sometimes wonder if too frequent use of it wouldn't have the effect of discouraging the cops who go out and arrest people and the grand juries which indict them.

Fete de Paris

A Paris, messieurs et mesdames, the times normal make themselves again. In that gray and lovely town, the Ministry of the Interior has dug itself up something bearing the fascinating name of Les Cagoulards. Gui, et plus encore, something else known under the cryptic title of Csar--which being translated means Le Comite Secret l'Action Revolutionaire. Guards of the Suretē Nationale, a little seedy as always, but still cockily magnificent in blue and red, stand about the Quai d'Orsai. Arms have been discovered, a plot unearthed. Expectancy waits. In the Chamber of Deputies the members fold their arms and declaim--in epigrams. Or wave their arms and scream epithets--fight. In the Place de la Republique, crowds in workmen's jackets roar under the figures of Liberté, Egalitè, et Fraternitè looking challenge north by east to Germany. In the Boule’ Miche’ and the Montmartre argument rages, tables are pounded, beer is thrown, song breaks out. Et demain--why tomorrow, citoyens, may bring the barricades, maybe even the tumbrils! The Red Sweetheart of France--does she not wait in her box-car?

Hē! C'est grand! C'est marveilleux! C'est normaux! Vive la Republique! Vive le Roi! Vive le Colonel de la Rocque! Vive France! Ca tra! Allons!

Well--Of Course Not*

Senator Kenneth McKellar of Tennessee, chairman of the Post Office Committee, has come forward with a bill to take those masters of the first, second and third class off the civil service lists and restore outright the old method of selecting them purely on a political basis. That seems natural enough for Senator McKellar. For before this he has shown himself so devoted to the spoils system in politics, that we have suggested that he be known as Pat--short for patronage, that is.

It was Senator McKellar who early this year blocked bills of Senators Mahoney and Vandenberg to put these postmasterships on a purely career basis. And it is Senator McKellar who is currently holding up a bill of Representative Ramspeck of Georgia which would do about the same thing.

But if it seems natural for Senator McKellar to be hotly engaged in making pie for politicians, there is something we don't quite understand about it. The dispatches reporting this bill describe Senator McKellar as "an administration spokesman." And however could that be? There were, to be sure, some low insinuations that when the President ordered postmasters onto the civil service list, he did it only to spike the guns of Alf Landon, who was trying to make an issue out of the matter. But that, obviously, was only Republican propaganda. What! The President, champion of Ideals and Clean Government, self-professed advocate of the civil service for all branches of the government--the President backing McKellar in making more soft snaps for politicians to hand out by way of aiding politicians to get and hold power? Of course not.

No Grousing

Major A. L. Fletcher, State Commissioner of Labor, appears to be one of those rarae aves, a reasonable man. He has shown before a constant disposition to put fact ahead of opinion, truth before a state of mind.

Some months ago, the Labor Department prosecuted a dress shop proprietess in Wilson for working her women employees longer than the law allows. Recently one of the women who had testified for the State was laid off, and she charged that it was an attempt to get even. The Labor Department, acting under a 1937 statute prohibiting such retaliation, took up her case and had the dress shop proprietess back in court. The Wilson recorder dismissed the case--"and he was exactly right," said Commissioner Fletcher. "Our evidence didn't sound as strong from the stand as it did before we went to trial. The defense was able to show that the laying off was due to a business slump rather than to any animus..."

Well, that's all there is to it. The evidence showed that the employee wasn't the victim of a grudge and that therefore the employer didn't have to pay a $10-to-$50 fine or go to jail for thirty days. Who knows but that yet the National Labor Relations Board will find that a worker was fired because he was no account rather than, as is always claimed, for union activity.

Coroner's Jury*

The law appears to be the other way about. But Colonel Kirkpatrick and Mercer Blankenship seem to have had a good deal of common sense on their side when they contended at the Connor inquest Friday night that coroner's jurymen ought to be subjected to the same tests as other jurymen.

It is true enough that the coroner and his jury did not constitute a court in the strict sense of the word, and that an indictment may still be brought by the grand jury regardless of their action. Nevertheless, their decision is of great weight in fixing public opinion and in determining the course the courts will ordinarily take. It is not common for grand juries to override their verdicts and bring indictments anyhow. And such being the case, why, as we say, it seems common sense that the talesmen should be examined as to whether they had previously formed opinions about the case in hand, and whether--in cases like that of Officer Bowlin and the Connor black--they have pronounced prejudices which might interfere with the disinterested discharge of their duty. The casual manner in which these juries are everywhere empaneled probably goes farther than anything else to explain those sometimes inexplicable verdicts which, rightly or wrongly, lend color to charges of whitewashing.

Dangerous Passage

The tumbling down of the mountain at Los Angeles reminds us again how precarious is our life upon this apparently solid earth. This is our destined mount, this rough old ball falling so strangely about the sun and through the icy blackness of space--rushing so strangely with the sun upon the constellation Hercules at twelve miles a second or some other equally preposterous speed. We can't get off. Like it or not, we, and all the teeming cargo of life which pours up from its fecund surface, can only cling on tight and hope to heaven it doesn't crash into any of the other giddy balls wheeling and spinning and falling out and around and across us--and that it doesn't blow up under our feet.

But we are an adaptable race, as all earth's children are adaptable. We like it. We don't want to get off this somewhat frightening vehicle. Most of the time, indeed, we decline to believe that it is frightening. We call it our kind old Mother. Well, a pretty kind old mother it is at that--doesn't it feed us and clothe us and house us? But a pretty rough old dame, too, when you venture to think about it, moody and incalculable. It thinks nothing at all of drowning us with fire or picking up the sea out of its bed and throwing it on in us or casting down the mountains upon us or leaping and dancing under our feet--of slapping us smack into our graves. In its time, indeed, it has killed more of us than we have killed of us ourselves.

Site Ed. Note: More about the two-block hill slide in Elysian Park in Los Angeles two days earlier may be found here and here. Fortunately, no one was injured.

But not always are the endings so pleasant for all. Whether Mother takes them all in such episodes to Elysian Fields, we cannot propose to say or know.

We ourselves have had occasion to be encapsulated within shelter standing both mighty hurricane winds and tumultuously churning mud and sliding plates of the earth on which we stride, in each such case not sparing all lives within the locales where these manifestations memorial of humanity’s eternal struggle, los mil millones años de la brea primordial, came forth, and with all their resplendent and catastrophic power and monstrous terror--and so only too well, appreciate the concept of which the editorial gives plaint.

We cannot any more avoid this particular form of terror than we may, unaided by mechanical device, take flight. But, by the same token, we need not hasten its anger toward us by consuming, ever consuming.

We should be remiss were we to fail to point out that the Army-Navy game, recounted on the front page of the Oakland Tribune, played the same date, was played in Philadelphia at Municipal Stadium, renamed in 1964 to John F. Kennedy Stadium. Until it closed in 1989 and succumbed to the wrecking ball three years later, the stadium provided the traditional academy rivalry its most usual annual venue. It was also the locus, from 1959 through 1963, for the Liberty Bowl. The last Liberty Bowl played there was between Mississippi State and North Carolina State. North Carolina State obtained the bid after UNC beat Duke in that game of 44 years ago today; rumor had it that had UNC lost that game, UNC would have instead been the invitee to the Liberty Bowl. Fortunately, it was otherwise. The Liberty Bowl, played on a freezing December day two days before Christmas, was won by the Bulldogs 16-12, but only after the sparse crowd of 8,300 had been picketed for an hour by the Philadelphia NAACP for the segregated practices of Mississippi State. The pickets had planned to stay longer, but the cold weather and the sparse crowd caused it to appear not worthwhile, a dispirited time generally for the country being that Christmas.

The Liberty Bowl was played in Atlantic City the following year and, since 1965, has been played in Memphis.

We have to feel quite sorry for the Wolfpack team of 1963. Their final regular season game, scheduled for the night of Friday, November 22 with Wake Forest, was not postponed, much to the added, though considering the overriding concern of the day, only incidental dismay of most people of good will in North Carolina at the time. The reason provided by the schools' presidents was that it was too late to change the schedule.

Perhaps, the pickets were fitting at the time for both schools and both states, though by no means do we suggest that statement to include all or even the majority of either, the teams, the schools or the states. It was rather the time and the atmosphere of the time in which an entire people lived and sought to live, against a backwater which threatened any day to engulf all of us in its furious hatred for life in general--or so it seemed to us at the time and in retrospect.

Hjalmer Schact, mentioned on the second page, incidentally, was instrumental in arranging the 1938 oil deal between William Rhodes Davis, Mexico, and the Third Reich to deliver the necessary oil to supplement dwindling supplies, to fuel the Panzers, which enabled the September 1, 1939 invasion of Poland, beginning World War II.

Sometimes, the realization of the old ironic rule of discount, post hoc, ergo propter hoc, serves to break off real or proximate causal connection between events. In the instant oily cases, however, of Herr Schact and Mr. Davis, it would not be in order to afford such a discount.

...Mais assez de la Tapisserie pour aujourd'hui.

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