The Charlotte News

Tuesday, February 1, 1938


Site Ed. Note: We must tell you that we do not share the idée fixe of which Cash speaks in the piece on the rose: we simply do not go about sticking names in the head like that. We admit that when we were very young, that Doublemint gum jingle became annoyingly stuck in the mind for awhile such that it nearly drove us to mild madness on occasion, as apparently it did much or most of our society in the 1960's. But besides that and the Mint sisters, we really never got a "Vicki Baum" kind of thing going incessantly, and certainly not when we were 38.

We do, however, to this day, without effort, recall the entire lyric of the song "I'm a Nut", as well as that of "King of the Road", though those aren't the only ones. Yet, though we learned both in school by rote, we could not much get past the first couple of lines for you in the Gettysburg Address, stopping short there with the phrase, "dedicated to the one I love", or, Mark Antony's soliloquy in honor of the fallen Emperor who had thrice refused the crown. Hamlet's "What a piece of work is man...", however, for some reason, sticks perfectly, as does too much of the rest of that record.

We have a dedicated rule that there is only so much space in the old memory bank, however capacious it might be, and it is only a fit place for the plums, not the things you may look up and marvel about all over again, reserving ample space then for more loosely defined material with which to build concepts and rational thinking rather than rote maxims of the dead which do little but confuse people when the pressure is on. We never even knew Mark Antony. He may well have been a thoroughly detestable sort of scoundrel, whereas "I'm a Nut" precisely lets you know where you stand with the song's inventor and whoever might with zest sing it.

So, just why that particular slight aberration of mind beset Cash on Vicki Baum, we don't know. Maybe it was mixed up with veni, vici, whacky, or whatever that latin phrase was, pronounced with all the w's. (Why do lawyers invariably say "de novo" when a w instead of the v is apropos? Did none but the happy few partake of latin? Or do those who did merely succumb to the others who didn't--in which case, why bother to begin with at learning all those infernal declensions or condescensions or whatever you call them, on which we spent many, many laborious hours when we should have been doing the Vicki Baum thing in the vici balm days of our youth?)

And, moreover, Joan Crawford? Perhaps it was "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?", or maybe the coathanger business in that awful mommie movie, but she never inspired any Vicki Baumism in us. Nor might we easily imagine a song about her lustrous eyes, except in phrases such as perhaps "those Crawford eyes with which the viewer finds easy despise" or something like that. But remember that Cash saw the world through thick eyeglasses. And perhaps through eyeglasses like that, they appear somehow lustrous, when to most of us they appeared monstrous. But maybe that was why she resorted to the coathangers and Cash felt she needed a lift a print. Or, perhaps we're bent, like the coathangers.

In any event, to be candid, there isn't much on the page today of any great inspiration to us. Perhaps you'll have better luck. And don't forget about the other two pieces of this date uploaded before and maintained separately.

Incidentally, we apologize to Ms. Picklesimer, should she still be with us, and all the other Picklesimers of the world for picking on your name. We mean no disrespect generally. It is a very poetic name which brings to mind many rhymes. In short, between ourselves and us, we don't know who's the slummer; is it balmier in the Southland than a dumb-show's sleeveless mummer? We hear also she was a great swimmer.

Girdler As Barkis*

Roaring Tom Girdler, captain of "Little Steel" in its war with John Lewis' CIO last Summer, spoke more softly in his address to the Carolina Political Union at the University last night than has been his wont. He was, he said, in favor of co-operation between government and industry, and between capital and labor. And to the end of "industrial peace," he proposed a platform of four points. With only one of these, however, are we presently concerned. It was:

Recognition of the principle of collective bargaining.

But that, we observe, is a little vague, so we turn back in our files to see what the record of Tom Girdler in practice actually is. And we find in late June, 1937:

Steelmaster Girdler prepared for the Mediation Board's meeting by issuing a reminder that the point at issue was signing labor contracts. That he swore again, he and his friends would never do for well-known reasons: (1) signed contracts would certainly be used as entering edges for the closed shop and the check-off, and (2) the union is not a responsible party to a contract."

From which we deduce that Steelman Girdler is entirely willing to bargain collectively provided Steelman Girdler can himself name the terms on which he will bargain collectively.

The Rose's Name

There was something said upon a time, we think, to the effect that the name of the rose doesn't really matter. You might, the author appeared to intimate, call it liverwort, and still the flower would be no less the lovely petaled thing.

But, ourselves, we always doubted it, remembering a girl we used to know and whom we might have liked a great deal but for the fact that her name invariably set off somewhat Rabelaisian connotations in our head. We derive further confirmation of the belief, too, from discovering that Joan Crawford, with those lustrous eyes, was actually named Lucille La Sueur...

And now we are positive of the matter. For the last two or three years, there has been a name in our head that ran on and on, "Vicki Baum, Vicki Baum, Vicki, Vicki, Vicki Baum, Baum, Vicki Baum"--just like that. Somehow it was all tied up with memories of the rolling German phrases of "O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum." It set us in mind of a cool, dry-sweet fir forest somewhere in the elf-haunted Woze, with a cunning little dryad dancing swiftly in the sun and [indiscernible word] to the gay fluting of capering fauns. But ah, Monday the beating of that name in our brain grew still, and the vision vanished forever. Monday we read in the papers that Novelist Vicki Baum had gone into court to be made an American citizen and revealed that her real name is--God help romance!--Herwig Lert.

Something Done

Sometimes we are not so sure about this vaunted power of the press, and then again we are impressed by it. As, for example, in the case of those insane Negroes at the County Home, some of whom had been there, without proper care or medical attention, beyond the memory of the present superintendent. They aren't there any more--at least, the craziest of them aren't there.

Their removal to a State hospital came about directly because of a story and pictures in the paper. Both were graphic evidence that the State, on which responsibility for the insane rests, was falling down shamefully on its job, and that the County Commissioners were remiss in not pestering the State to step up and do its duty. But with publicity both outfits went into action, and as a result eight insane Negroes have been taken over by the State since January 1. Several, whom it is not necessary to place behind bars, remain at the County Home.

New Color Lines

The Rev. Edmund A. Walsh, dean of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, warns Massachusetts authorities that he fears that "radical agitators" need to make another Sacco-Vanzetti case out of the Fred Beal business.

The Reverend, we think, needn't have been so cautious about it. The Red news sheets of the country have already begun loudly to proclaim that Beal is simply the victim of a capitalistic plot. And if the pinks, who are putting up most of the money for his defense, aren't doing exactly that, they're still insinuating it pretty strongly.

Nevertheless, there is in the Rev. Mr. Walsh's statement the implication, at least, and a pretty eager implication, that Beal ought summarily to be carted off to prison without further examination. And as a matter of fact, there is a good deal of doubts about the rightness of Beal's conviction, not because of any capitalistic plot but because he was tried in an atmosphere of great alarm and angry passion. If justice is to be done, the case ought, obviously, to be re-examined in the greater coolness which now prevails. To forget that is simply to forget that justice is the real issue here, and to fall into the most curious error of our curious time, the thinking that absolutes of Red against White or White against Red are the only things which count. Guilt or innocence is still the thing that counts in murder cases.

Teddy, They Mean

Up in Buffalo, New York State, they've got a square called Roosevelt Plaza. It was laid out a good many years ago now, and the Roosevelt they had in mind when they named it was not Franklin, who wasn't anything then but simply another member of the Roosevelt clan, but Teddy. And now the Spanish-American War veterans of the town have petitioned the town council to make that fact plain by renaming the square Theodore Roosevelt Plaza.

The reason they offer is merely the desire to keep history straight. But we observe that Buffalo has been one of the chief Republican centers of upstate New York. From the Civil War down to the last election, it had never parted company with Maine and Vermont. That last election, it did desert, to be sure. But when such overturns come about, it is usually the young voters who cause them. And Spanish War veterans, you observe, are not, under the stretch of anybody's imagination, young voters.

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