The Charlotte News

Tuesday, February 15, 1938


Site Ed. Note: For four pieces from Cosmopolitan by Oscar Odd McIntyre, whose death the day before, the column of this date commemorated, go here. As the piece below suggests, his regular syndicated daily column, titled "New York Day by Day", was a hodgepodge of homespun talesmanship which reached readers on a personal level of relationship to that which is most commonplace among us, home.

Just yesterday morning, we came across on the internet some photographs of our old hometown: There was Rose Kennedy in 1960 in, of all places, a tobacco warehouse, holding, of all things, a sheaf of brown-leaf, with the former mayor standing beside her; there was Barry Goldwater in 1964 on the balcony of a now demised hotel, orating to the downtown crowd, probably about why extremism in defense of liberty was no vice; there was Ronald Reagan in 1968 at a Hilton hotel; there was Harry Truman in 1951 at the groundbreaking of the transplanted college campus; there was the road, as it appeared fifty years ago, a few months before our family first transplanted to the burg--after which the blanched van driver moving our goods and wares from there to here tremulously knotted his words in relating the experience that the whole load liked to not get here, as it all nearly shook itself into the river below while inching its way across one of those Pee Dee spans, not entirely accommodative to the w. of the g.v. at hand--, and on which road eleven years hence we, as but a mere blanc-bec, intrepidly set out on our first cross-town junket alone as commander of our own ship on the way to school; there, in the same photo, the dairy wherein we had three or four birthday parties, bowling birthday parties, as a little tyke--when all the world, it seemed, got to come and celebrate along with us, as we reciprocated in turn.

There are more trees in these places now than then, when the land itself, that is, has not been displaced by concrete or steel cages for offices; but on the whole, we were rather astonished to note just how little has changed in the burg in the past half century or more, especially when compared to how vast the changes had been for the half century prior to that: changes produced in consequence of the coming of electricity and the automobile and paved roads, ushering in progress and industry and the necessary skyscraper or two for industry's executives to inhabit.

Now, though, after all that growth in the first half of the last century, it is settled in, for better or worse, with little to change it, at least in terms of its edificial stock; only passing memories in escape of the past or in fondness of it.

The major change is that there is really no downtown anymore, left 35 years ago for the suburbs, inhabited now only by the courts and offices for the most part, an occasional restaurant for the business trade; all the stuff of consumerism, department stores, dime stores, coffee shops with real milkshakes and chili dogs, haberdashers, milliners, movie houses where your feet stuck to the floor by the second feature, automobile dealers with bright shiny chrome over fenderskirts sparkling beneath tinseled lightbulbs lit well into the night air as if set up only the night before as a traveling tent show for your very sole enjoyment at the touch of the smooth curves traveling endless highways into the future of your reflection in the bumper guard--all now moved beneath neon enclosures to mall-city, where shopping is safer and less intruded upon by inclement weather, either of the frosty or the frothy type.

But with that, too, disappeared that insular feeling one used to obtain from picking up the morning paper after a fire-breathing rainstorm in summer and seeing the photograph of the middle-aged woman of yesterday p.m.'s suddenly darkened and slashed main strip, forced to clutch a newspaper tenaciously to her head, already wrapped in the clear kerchief beneath the bleeding print, which obviously was yet not enough provision against Thor when he sent his hammer crashing to the streets below sending the sun swimming for freedom to less inhospitable purlieus; or the endearing inner warmth made the more ingratiable by that of the barely discernible image of the booted gentleman struggling in the drifts amid the gauze screen to push his car back onto a surface which could capture friction on the gripless treads by the chains into which he had just rolled them.

But for now, with all the shopping centers on every corner which can be developed, a bank in your lap, a library, even a school, at your fingertips, no one need much venture far any longer in such weather. And such a substantial number now have one of the behemoth all-weather vehicles that you wouldn't likely see those determined individualist strugglers against the sheets and drifts anymore. They can plow right through them, rain or shine, snow or sleet. Only, there's not much rain, not much snow, not much sleet even, these days...

Someday, maybe soon, maybe if it snows in this warmest of winters, we'll get a little sentimental and tell you about the igloo we once helped to build 43 years ago. That's when the drifts were mighty, the rainstorms fierce and fearless.

The rest of the page is here.

Everybody's Doing It*

"This bureaucratic control," cried Senator McAdoo yesterday just before the farm bill took its Senate hurdle, "will be offensive to the freemen who live on the farms. They will show their resentment."

The bill calls for bureaucratic control, all right. Production quotas as between states and between farms in those states will be apportioned out, and if that medicine isn't strong enough, the Secretary of Agriculture is empowered to fix quotas on sales, beyond which individual farmers may go only by paying stiff penalties. Regimentation? The bill reeks with it.

The funny thing about farm control is that the farmers have clamored for it. Their taste of regimentation under the original AAA and its back-standing Bankhead Act was not without its ludicrous side, but it had one sterling virtue. It worked. It put more money in the farmers' pockets.

And come to think of it, what the farmers want is hardly any different from what the movies and the baseball big leagues have and what the stock exchange is about to take on--a czar to make them do what they know they should, but won't, do voluntarily. Only, in this case, the czar is the United States Government.

Site Ed. Note: The case to which the piece refers is South Carolina Highway Dept. v. Barnwell Bros., Inc., 303 US 177, an opinion delivered by Justice Harlan Stone, decided 7-0, with Justice Cardozo and newly appointed Justice Reed not taking part in the decision. The case basically stands for the proposition that the states retain the primary control over streets and highways, because of their intrinsically local nature, in terms of regulation and policing powers, as balanced against the right of Congress to legislate in the field of matters affecting and substantially impacting interstate commerce under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

There's a Limit

The Florida citrus fruit growers professed to see ruin for themselves in the decision of the Supreme Court that South Carolina is within its rights in limiting trucks to 20,000 pounds gross weight and 92 inches in width. Trucking companies, they say, won't be interested in carrying such small loads of fruit to the Eastern markets. But somehow we doubt it. Such prophecies of ruin almost invariably turn out to be wrong. And that it is likely to be so in this case is a supposition which is borne out by the fact that various other trucking companies, anticipating the decision, have already purchased equipment which conforms to the requirements.

In any case, it seems to be an instance in which a private interest must give way to public welfare. Trucks weighing up to 40,000 pounds and more, measuring over a 100 inches in width, and roaring along at from 30 to 40 miles--often at great speeds when they are traveling downhill--are hard on roads and one of the worst traffic hazards. Though they may figure in few accidents, when they do somebody is going to get hurt, and it is likely to be somebody else.

Bancroft's Dead Hand

A hundred years ago a man from Massachusetts wrote a history of the United States, which you may still find in the libraries in three fat and dusty volumes. His name was George Bancroft, and he was twelve years old when the second war with England was fought. Moreover, he left the Federalist Party to join the Democratic Party, which was intensely nationalistic and anti-English at the time, and that party greatly honored him. The result was that he exhibited throughout his life a marked antipathy to the British nation, and that he embodied that antipathy into his account of the rise of the American nation.

But his book made a great noise in the world, and for all the years down to the Great War, it remained more or less the standard by which other histories were written--and particularly school histories. All these last were Bancroftian in their view of the British in those days.

Wherefore--we take note of the fact that there is a little band of men in the United States Senate, with Hiram Johnson at their head, who invariably see red when they begin to suspect that, for good or bad reason, the United States is beginning to get friendly with the old mother and oppressor. And we notice, too, that all these men are of an age that makes them to have been schoolboys far back in the Bancroftian period.

Beal's Surrender

Fred Beal has done the sensible thing in deciding to surrender to North Carolina's authorities voluntarily. His case was in danger of becoming a cause célèbre, like the Sacco-Vanzetti case, the Mooney case, and the Scottsboro case. And it is characteristic of such cases that while radicals and conservatives debate them furiously, the persons involved languish in the hoosegow.

But, in returning voluntarily, Beal leaves the question of justice as the only one at stake--and squarely up to North Carolina. Governor Hoey has said that if Beal returned, he would be "treated exactly like any other prisoner." But that does not seem to us to be an adequate disposal of the case. It is quite true, perhaps, that Beal, in fleeing to Russia while his appeal was pending, legally forfeited the right of appeal. Nevertheless, in common fairness, the tense passion which prevailed in those times must not be forgotten. The plain fact is that there is considerable reason for doubting that Beal is really guilty of conspiracy to murder, the crime for which he was convicted.

At any rate, he has probably taken the wiser course in throwing himself at the mercy of North Carolina than letting himself become a martyr to Massachusetts radicals.

Coming and Going*

The CIO has plumped down a demand for Congress to appropriate at once $600,000,000 to put 3,500,000 workers on WPA during the next four months. "What the CIO is asking," says National Director Brophy, though the size of his figures indicated pretty clearly what he wanted, "is that WPA open its rolls so that everyone who needs a job can get on."

It so happens that two of the industries in which CIO has made the greatest progress are currently two of the industries where employment is most slack. The rate of activity in automobiles and steel is just now at a low point, and it would be a very good thing for workers in these industries, as well, incidentally, as for CIO, if WPA were to step up and support them during the lull.

At the same time, these men make good money when they work. Their average hourly rate of pay is 90 cents or more, with time and a half for overtime. Except for strikes in the automobile industry, they have been steadily at work for many prosperous months, and they have had every opportunity to lay by enough to tide them over leaner months. In addition, many of them undoubtedly are drawing unemployment benefits.

And if it come to the point that the relief authorities must, in slack times, look after men who make $35 or $40 a week in good times, why, the damage it will do to the American character will be exceeded only by the damage it will do to the Federal Government's budget.

The Coroner's Budget*

A macabre little note in yesterday's News was that on the County Coroner's budget. Allotted $800 for the year to June 30, only $69.25 remained in the account, against which there was outstanding a voucher for $170. Next year, the Coroner thought he ought to have $1,000 or $1,200.

And apparently he needs it, for since Dr. Austin took over the job on December 7, 1936, he has had to examine 176 dead persons. In that time there have been, he said, 35 murders, 22 deaths by automobile, 12 suicides, and 10 railroad deaths.

Civilization's a great thing, ain't it?

Friend of Millions

There are millions of people, in all probability, who feel that in the death of O. O. McIntyre they have lost a personal, a constant and a delightful friend. And small wonder. McIntyre, no matter his leaping agilely from one topic to another, was always writing about--McIntyre. Not offensively, of course, but in that intimate style which gave a fictional importance to his every idle thought, dramatized his domestic relationships, and positively melodramatized his acquaintance with the great and the near great.

He was a man of engaging mentality who unhesitatingly spread out his every whimsy and his every human weakness for the entertainment of a large audience. In fact, whimsy was first-rate column material, and doubtless the day-by-day scrivener did not discourage a playful thought when he felt it coming on. Further than that, he had in abundance the sine qua non of columning--the ability to soak up material as a sponge soaks up water.

Not a great man, by any count, was McIntyre; but a thoroughly entertaining one and a genuinely kind one. And eminence in his line he had undoubtedly so that he will be surely missed.

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