The Charlotte News



Site Ed. Note: Of the three editorials which follow, it is likely that only the third is by Cash. And if you might quibble that, well, they said his beat was international affairs and that one smacks of some local doings, see the one we discovered just the other day, a by-lined piece, "While Maflo Piddles", (which might be sub-titled, Charlotte Burns), October 22, 1937.

So, we conclude again, and with firm testimony on our side now, that his beat was far and wide, pole to pole, and back again, to the place where all news ultimately originates.

Reading "Letters to Santa Claus" without a date attached, we might have at first thought it in reference to the University of North Carolina basketball team, circa 1973. But no, just city politics of Charlotte, circa 1937. (Yet, subtract ten years, or even sixteen, from that team, we aver cunningly, and you have your answer for yesterday's puzzler, we opine from the freezer as our benchmark.)

The one piece on the page of this Christmas Eve which was definitely by Cash, we have previously re-printed nine years ago, "Away in a Manger", included in the "Reader" section of Joseph Morrison's 1967 biography, and always good for a re-read around this time of year.

If you have read some of these editorials posted in the past year and fancy that there is a sense of déjà vu surrounding Broun's piece, it is not your imagination. It was re-printed at Christmas of 1939 as Broun lay poignantly dying in a New York City hospital of pneumonia. There is always something poignant about the death of someone, especially at an age as young as 51, who possessed a crusty, rough and tumble persona in life, as Broun at least regularly portrayed himself in his written word.

As to the Ohio bellhop's statement, we might further inquire as to whether the gentleman in Room 7 had done himself thusly in This Bee's Garter, or whether, perhaps, it was the handicraft of some Nazi, or the equivalent. ...Such our thoughts run sometimes, darkly.

By the way, should you have noticed "October", from October 27, a piece plainly by Cash, which we just found and uploaded a couple of days ago, you may have noticed also, should you have pressed the blue ink to the 1928 piece on the fair, a peculiarity about it all, that is the peculiar confluence of a peculiar use of the word effluvium, though in our note on the nine-year earlier Cleveland Press entry, it was in adjectival form.

Although these sorts of things through the nine years of setting forth these editorials have come to occur so regularly that we scarcely take the time to point them out except on rare occasions, this one provides indeed another one of those little goose-bumply moments of recognition of that something.

For, we wrote that note in spring, 2001, as we first uploaded those editorials from The Cleveland Press, about a year after having acquired them from the microfilm at the Shelby Public Library.

And, as we just got through saying, we first ran across "October" just a couple of days ago, though we did pull it off the microfilm as a copy of the column only, sometime in 2002 or early 2003, but definitely not by 2001 at the time we set forth that little note on the pieces, all by Cash, of September 28, 1928.

If the coincidence were in the word cat or even Conrad, or some other fairly commonly used name or word, say, parrot, or even one common only to Cash's occasionally peculiar idiom, we should dismiss it with a wave of the hand and think no more on it. Or if both pieces had dealt with rivers or the like, or any other common subject, where effluvium or effluvial might naturally become a descriptor, then again, we wouldn't bother to raise a single hair on the back of our necks anent it. But, as it is, you see, well, it is. This is quite why we always liked Hitchcock: Neither October nor the fair immediately conjure up the common root word.

Just why we chose that word that day in spring, 2001, we can't tell you, as we simply don't recall. Undoubtedly, it just happened along to our muse and we liked it, musingly, and so set it to print. We can't anymore explain it in any rational sense than we might fly on a chilly winter's day at Blüthecart, wherever that might be, anymore than we could explain last summer the falcon in the cemetery nearby where we live, and all its little coincidences, or the little coincidence between Ms. Rigby's death day in England in October, 1939 and the piece of the same day in The News, or a hundred, dare we say by now, a thousand, such coincidences, only a handful of which we actually bother to refer to you.

We make note of them especially if there is more than one confluence, or, as here, the confluence is so unique as to convey positively a flood across the effluvia. And, here, too, we have the cross-reference in the two pieces of Marco Polo and Cathay, though that in itself, of course, both coming from Cash's hand, and being references he made on other occasions within his oeuvre, (see, e.g., just yesterday's prints and the albatross besetting poor Conrad), but standing as such together with the effluvium confluence, it does all become a bit ghostly.

You could of course dismiss it as a lot of poppycock, interconnections of words, events, etc., such that when there is enough of a volume of anything you are bound to have, within the concepts of mathematical randomness, such coincidences. But, even if so, it still does not explain them, at least those of the type to which we refer.

Some believe, apparently with sincerity, that such phenomena are the result of spacemen in saucers confusing us and rounding us all up by the droves for the kill or something. We remain highly skeptical of such an explanation, as, even including that time in Mayberry in October, 1973, we have yet to see one ourselves, or even evidence that there was one among us previously, a spaceman, that is, not of this earth--though we admit that night in Mayberry gave us considerable pause on the matter. (Someday, however, remind us to impart the time we lost our way at 2:00 a.m. in a west Texas town, were pulled over by the local Sheriff's Deputy to determine whether we might be lost, kindly provided correct directions to our destination, only to pull us over a second time to tell us that we were still headed the wrong way out of town, and, moreover, that our dome light was lit, we having imparted to him our destination, Roswell, N.M.--to which we were sorely tempted to add to his inquiry that our purpose in so going was to greet some of our long lost relatives who arrived there some decades ago from a far away place. But we shall save that story for a more apropos occasion.)

We rather think such things in the realm of the serendipity confirm something else, something beyond Freud, beyond the sub-conscious or stream-of-consciousness ramblings of idiots, as all writers surely must be, beyond myth, beyond advertising, beyond television, beyond movies, beyond the commonplace of the world mundane: that is, the human spirit indomitable, well beyond this thing we call life. We often cringe, indeed, at the use of the word death or dead, as applied to a person, as opposed to a mere corpse from which the spirit of that person has fled, for there is really no such thing as death of a person, we posit.

It might yet, however, depend on what sort of life one has lived, quite independent of the opinions of others, but the actuality of that life, objectified, rather than in the limited subjective circumstances imparted routinely in one's own legendary account of one's self, as to what pattern that thing we term death might take as its substantial form.

Well, it is never too late for us all to change, we suppose. We remind again from this normally cold clime at Christmastime, where we are, now quite springlike and toasty warm, that the planet, in its groans and shivering fevers, appears mightily to be telling us something profound, like a sick puppy, like poor Conrad out there awash and apparently lost at sea, with an avariciously voracious albatross hovering, setting its sights upon his furry mane, that we must return, now, reverse the mainyards, even at the risk of capsizing the whole rig, pick up Conrad and see to it that the melting subsides. That, by driving less and finding a proper substitute for fossil fuels, and soon, no later than the end of 2010, we urge, a far easier and a far more salutary goal for all than the silliness of going to Mars so that some living person can tell us boringly what a machine has already amply told us--that it be red and dead, dummy, as soon we might be should we maintain the puppetry.

Santa may be on his way, for some, but once again, he is riding in slush, at best, if not leaving sparks behind in his trail along the dry macadam, in most places on the planet. And, should we not get a grip on things now, and give him his ice back on which to glide, well, within a very few years, we may only wish for Christmas, besides our two front teeth, a little cold weather to freeze the warm lake formed at our back doors, to afford a landing strip for the airlift of food to us, our agricultural belt long ago having perished in the blazing sun, turned to dust and blown away, or simply flooded along the coastal plain, that is after we moved to the high ground to avoid the salty lap, lap of the incursion from the ancient sea.


Christmas Holiday*

In keeping with a time-honored and wholly worthy custom, The News will not issue tomorrow. Christmas is the one day of 365 on which no paper is published, and the reasons for that are two.

In the first place, regular, workaday pursuits, such as reading a newspaper, ought to be foresworn on so rare a day as Christmas. What matters it if one remains, for this brief period, in virtual ignorance of how the world wags? Time enough to continue the story the day following, but let this day, this Christmas Day, be honored in the breach of routine rather than in the observance.

In the second and more appealing place, it is done that the employees of The News may have the day and the evening before the day to spend with their families, to pursue from dusk to deadline any activities that commend themselves, to take comfort from the notion that Saturday's paper has been laid and printed and delivered--and sent flaming up the chimney to Santa Claus.

So let the metal pots cool. Let the staccato typewriters grow quiescent, and hush those infernal clattering teletypers. Scrub the face of the printer's devil and let's see for once what he looks like. So turn out the lights, make fast the doors and hie away home, for tomorrow is Christmas, and Christmas is our holiday.

Special Christmas Greetings From The News*

We who work here at The News are conscious, day in and day out, of the obligation we are under to two groups of clients. Ordinarily, we accept their existence much in the way that they accept ours--as things taken for granted: but when the year comes to Holiday, when there wells up in man the impulse to express the good will that fills their souls, it is then that we turn directly to wish Merry Christmas to--

(1) Our readers. But for them our endeavors here would be worse than wasted. There is an old trick question, hanging on the point of whether, if a tree were to fall in the forest with no one in earshot, there would be any sound. Sound, the scientists assert, is the stimulation of the auditory nerve, and with no auditory nerve in range of the long crash of this tree, there would be no sound. Well, we don't know about that, but of this we are positive: that there would be extremely little sense in getting out a newspaper day after day if no considerable body of people were to read it. And it is precisely the awareness that people are reading it, the certainty that we rise or fall by their favor or disfavor, that makes this trade of ours one of the most challenging, as well as most absorbing, in the world.

So to our readers, then, a larger group this year than the year before, we address the extra-special greeting, "Merry Christmas! May Your Tribe Increase!"

There is another group of clients, less numerous but fully as important in the newspaper scheme of things, and these, of course, are:

(2) Our advertisers. For their patronage during the year which culminates on Christmas, we desire to express thanks. Our relations with many of these business houses and individuals extend well over a quarter of a century, and during those times we both have shared adversity and prosperity. Yet in all times we like to think that in this great partnership of newspaper and the advertisers there runs the dominant theme of velocity of trade, the exchange of goods for services and services for goods, the creation and the satisfaction of creature wants, the [indiscernible word] of which is comfort and the material well-being of the community. To these advertisers, then, to the old with a familiarity born of long acquaintance, and to the new with a prologue of established pleasant relations, we would wish the best of Christmases and many, many of them.

Letters to Santa Claus*

Imagine, if ye will be so kind, that the scene is Christmas Headquarters at the North Pole. At a great round desk with four corners--well, the earth is round, isn't it, and still people speak of the ends of the earth?--sits a rosy, bearded, old fellow holding his belly in his lap and chuckling to himself every now and then. He is going through his mail, which is brought to him from four directions by four elves whom he calls, respectively, Northy, Easty, Westy and Southy. Southy has just dumped a sack-full of letters in front of this jolly jentleman, whose envelopes he is opening by the simple expedient of unlicking them. He talks to himself, aloud:

"Ah! Here's the Charlotte mail. Kuester--that's a good name for a reindeer; I must remember that. And he's quite the most forehanded supplicant I have encountered. Skip him this Christmas, he says; just make it a hundred thousand by 1940. And he should have his wish, though he may come to regret it.

"This one I do not understand. It is from one who signs himself the Friendly Mayor of the Friendly City, and yet he is asking me here for that seat I have promised to another little boy over in Gastonia. Is that friendly?

"Harkey, now, that's better. A more Christmasy sound to it, like, 'Hark 'ee, merry gentlemen.' But what on earth? A new reputation for his jail? Why, I cannot even get into the thing, much less get in and out again. And I have my own reputation to think of, as well as--er--other things," said Santa, gazing fondly at his bulging mid-section.

"MAFLO? MAFLO? I never heard of that before. And they want--good heavens, what's this?--a new goat. But if they want a new goat, they must have one already. Oh, I see. They had to get rid of him. He ate up too much good white paper."

And then Santa set to searching through the pile of letters remaining, as though looking for one in particular. He looked and he looked, saying sotto voce to himself, "Where is little Jimmy Marshall's letter?" All of a sudden he sat himself back in his chair and a sly grin spread over his face. "Oh," he said; "oh: I almost forgot. Jimmy has already had his present."

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