The Charlotte News

Tuesday, December 7, 1937


Site Ed. Note: Shadows of Charlotte’s towers on a drowsy morning drawn in comparison to those of Lancelot’s castle in Camelot? That is what we find Cash painting for us in "On a December Morning". It also suggests that at 7:30 he was considering his plight darkly, whether other opportunity in a more glimmering, recondite city, maybe one cloaked in Tyrian purple, golden glowgelofre, divers lambeaux hanging from pearlescent emeralds in seaside soft pyte, might have slipped away during his reclusive years of the previous decade in Boiling Springs and Shelby, contemplating the mind of the South. So be it, he reconciles the matter, impressionistically; Charlotte, through the prism of the morning light (and thick eyeglasses) at once becomes as good as any other place, Shalott maybe, by eight o'clock.

Thoughts on Camelot appear to abound this day, as the harsher side of same then enters from the pierce into Poe’s "The Fall of the House of Usher" in "The Dead Come to Life".

And, had Robert E. Lee’s mother not been salvaged from the crypt before his birth, would history have been any different? A quicker ending for the Confederacy? A longer war?

Idle Thought

The Federal Writers Project here is making a book about Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. It will be, according to a preview, a valuable book, accurate historically and full of lively information, such as that in 1767 seven gallons of whisky were consumed at a funeral, the bill charged to the estate of the deceased.

In 1833, the Sons of Temperance was organized. Judging by the style of funerals, it was high time.

That brings us, by a series of coherent steps, to the year 1853. That was when James W. Asborne ran for Congress. During his campaign it was charged that he was a member of the Sons of Temperance, and although his opponents could not prove this thing, they beat him. In fact, the liquor question was the issue of the campaign, and all the dry standard-bearers were defeated.

Heigh ho; the cycle spins. Let's see: On June 1, 1937, the United Dry Forces and the Women's Christian Temperance Union won a liquor election in Mecklenburg County. Wonder if Chester Morrison will be a candidate for Congress in 1937?

All the Difference

Our old friend, the word fascism, is with us again. The occasion this time is the National Labor Relations Board's order ("failing at your peril") to Hartley W. Barclay, editor of the Conover Mast publication, "Mill and Factory," to appear and explain just how and why he chose to write an article sharply criticizing the board's handling of the Weirton Steel hearing.

That, grave men tell us, is fascism itself. And we had better watch out. Our liberties are about to be taken from us, and just one more step--

But somehow we take little stock in it all. That was a stupid and arrogant order, certainly--one which flew squarely into the teeth of the right of free speech and a free press--one in itself in the fascist vein, no doubt. Nevertheless, we decline to believe that it or any of the other things with a fascist smack that sometimes transpire among us, as Mayor Hague's attempt to deny the CIO its legal rights in Jersey City, really mean that we are in the slightest danger of actually going fascist. For observe: Mr. Barclay declined to heed the subpoena, flatly. And can the NLRB do anything about it? It can't. Or if it tried, Mr. Barclay could go into a court with the practical certainty of getting immediate relief. Mr. Barclay, in brief, has a remedy against attempts to violate his rights. And the CIO at Jersey City has a remedy. Nor is there the slightest sign that we are going to be deprived of the remedies. And so long as that holds, we are not in danger of actually going fascist. For it is the essence of fascism that--there are no remedies.

On a December Morning

The clock has just struck seven-thirty in the morning and you are still rubbing the cobwebs out of your eyes and feeling a little cross as you turn into North Tryon Street and walk toward Independence Square. Hang Charlotte for a dull, prosaic town, anyhow! However did it happen that you came at this hour on this December morning in this particular year of the Christian era to be walking along this particular street in this commonplace town towards breakfast and the task of putting words on paper to no end that anybody can well understand--when, in reality, of course you ought to have been walking in some white and gold and purple town, and performing quite properly and undeniably in splendor? However did it happen?

And then you look up, with your eyes a little clearer, and the sun is slanting on the towers of the buildings along the west side of Tryon. Bathed in shining light those towers lift up out of the shadows--why, they lift up with all the white portentous mystery with which Joyous Garde once must have lifted over Camelot. And as you move into Independence Square, the light streams westward along Trade, soft and yellow and lambent, to merge into a mist of rose and brown. Southward along Tryon there lies a deep unfathomable shadow of lilac and purple. And eastward are blue shadows under the black line of the railroad pass silhouetted against the light. And suddenly you feel that all towns are white and gold and purple towns--that Charlotte also is beautiful with the beauty of the earth at eight o'clock on a fine December morning. And you go on, not minding very much even that you have to put words on paper to ends that remain obscure.

Hard But Fair*

In addition to that handsome limestone structure down East Trade way, and the Armory-Auditorium, the Municipal Garage, the Incinerator and other real estate, the City now owns--almost, that is--six dwelling houses. The purchase was made yesterday when City Treasurer Ledbetter bid them in an auction sale for the exact amount of taxes and accrued interest due. Unless the City's bids are increased by 5% in 20 days, or, we suppose, unless the past due taxes are paid, title to the various parcels will pass from their present owners to the municipality.

Well, it's hard lines, and we confess to some sympathy for the six about-to-be-sold-out owners. But there's another side to it. They are behind in their taxes by as much as seven, eight, nine years. Their accounts have gone up year by year until they constitute almost a capital charge against the properties. They have been given every opportunity to settle on almost any kind of basis. The City would have been delighted at any stage to accept partial payments and defer the execution.

And, besides, the $3,000 or so that the six owe in taxes is part of an enormous accumulation of unpaid taxes running up into the hundreds of thousands. Plainly, out of consideration for those people who were paying, those who weren’t paying had to be brought to taw. It may be hard, but no one can question that it's fair.

Easy Doesn't Do It*

In contrast to the City's showdown with delinquent taxpayers, consider the County's persistent optimism that someday they will come bustling in and settle. The County has about as much due in unpaid taxes as the City, in spite of the City's having had larger bills to collect. But the County has consistently fought shy of any method that smacked of compulsion. Its latest half-way measure is the employment of an "outside man" to call on the delinquents and urge them to come across. Maybe, at that, some of them will; but it will take a pretty active collector to make a dent in the half-million dollars of taxes past due.

If there is any lesson to be learned from the foreclosure actions which the City has finally been compelled to take, it is that too much consideration is, in the end, worse than almost no consideration. Practically any home-owner, if put to it, can rake, scrape or get together somehow his twenty or thirty or fifty-dollar annual tax bill. But let the account run for ten years, and the $200 or $300 or $500 due is more than he can hope to get together.

The Dead Come to Life

The case of the man who yesterday woke up to find himself lying in a winding sheet on the cooling table in an Asheville undertaking establishment, with corpses ranged around him, is not without parallel. On opening old graves, signs have been found which indicated that the "corpse" had returned to consciousness after being buried and had put up a terrific struggle to escape. And makers of the morbid sort of fiction, such as Poe, Hoffman, Monk Lewis, and Bulwer-Lytton, have often played with the idea. Poe devotes one of his most appalling sketches to what goes on in the mind of a young English girl, cataleptic and already obsessed with the fear of being buried alive. Having been pronounced dead, the poor thing awakens in the family vault.

But there are strictly historical cases, too. One of the most celebrated is that of the mother of General Robert E. Lee. Subject to catalepsy--a condition which simulates the rigidity of death--she was once placed in the family vault and grieved for as dead. She stayed there for two days before her groans and cries attracted attention. That was before the birth of the great Confederate captain--according to one story, only a few months; but according to another, nine years.

Site Ed. Note: The other editorials of the day are here. Now, for one more cup of singing coffee, before we go... Shall we make it Irish, or no?

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