The Charlotte News
Friday, February 9, 1940
Once, we were trying just to go straight, in Pulpit Hill, one fine March day, at a time when the aforementioned former President was sitting as President.
There was, unusually, at this usual intersection on our route, a copper directing traffic, for some odd reason of which we had not the slightest at the instant. He motioned to us to move forward along the street, the one there crossing macadam which bears not Parsley, Sage, or Thyme. We were a little fogged of the moment, having remained awake for the previous 24 hours or so, in order to finish a paper due at noon that day. This was about a quarter till. The subject we donít exactly recall, but it was a very intelligently written paper, we are certain. (Actually, now that weíve pieced it back together a bit, we discover, by a process of elimination, that it was regarding Shakespeare; just on which play or plays, however, still escapes us. Probably, the one which begins with Aegeon speaking to Solinus; most fittingly, nonetheless, as we would hence hie to unfold, another, but nay 'twas not, for upon that one yet we had not an eye lain, nor even so much as broken the closure of an illiad.)
Thus, we began ever so slowly to edge forward into the intersection. No sooner than we had crept about five feet, however, suddenly, the copper stood in our path, threw up his arms in a wild flinging motion, and yelled "Alto", that is "halt". We immediately complied.
The young copper came rushing to our window in an apparent rage of brass, as if he were pursuing the Reichstag fire. We rolled down our window to see what his matter of inquiry was. Thereupon, he demanded our operatorís license, whereupon we presented same. He then haughtily took our operatorís license, placed it unceremoniously in his shirt pocket, with great economy of motion as he so did, and instructed us to meet him at the police department at 2:00 p.m. We asked him why. He responded that he would tell us at 2:00 p.m.
Poised in great suspense, and fearful that he might chase us down now, since we had no longer in our possession an operatorís license, we nevertheless crept on by, handed in our paper with a minute to spare, and headed back to twiddle our thumbs until 2:00 p.m.
Upon our arrival at the police department at 2:00 p.m., we were greeted by a friendly sergeant who asked us our business. After imparting to him the reason for our being there, he shook his head and asked us the name of the officer who had snatched our operatorís license. We then told the sergeant the officerís name, to which he replied, "Not him again?" We had no prior truck with the officer, but felt it only reasonable to say, "Yes, him." The sergeant laughed and said he would talk to him about it.
We donít recall the name of the young copper in question honestly, and would not feel any need to provide it now if we did, as that was so long ago that it really doesnít matter. But, in the end, once the copper showed up finally, we got our operatorís license back, plus a ticket, later dismissed, for allegedly refusing to obey a copper in a fire or other emergency.
The fire in question had occurred in the early morning hours at an establishment called, we kid you not, Hectorís, just three or four blocks away on Franklin, just down the street from the Morehead Planetarium parking way, there, gyring wy the wabe.
Hectorís, famous since 1969, is still there, though now upstairs from its location then, downstairs. It was originally owned by a Greek family, one of whose members was a three-term Congressman, then ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for both the gubernatorial nomination, and, as the party nominee, for Senator of North Carolina, in 1968 and 1972, respectively. They make superb hamburgers and hotdogs, so try one if you are ever in Pulpit Hill.
We donít know if it was Achilles (perhaps angered by the fact that the aforementioned Congressman attended Duke) who started the fire in March, 1975, but it wasnít us; and the officerís directions, through sleepless eyes or not, for our long night of bountiful scholarship, were as plain as day: proceed.
Perhaps, we should have known, however, to be especially careful in this block of space, just astride the grounds of the original one-room law school of Pulpit Hill, for just two years and one month earlier, a block ahead of this incident there, just across the way from that law school, we had sought to turn right on a red light after first coming to a complete stop. We were given a ticket for that. It was, you see, about 60 days before the new law kicked in which has allowed ever since the lawful right turn on a red light. That one, however, was dismissed also. The problem there being that we were not in a motor vehicle at the time. We were on our bicycle.
In any event, after the one in March, 1975, we boarded a ship next day, took our heading, and made our way to the Caribbean.
We wonít even begin to tell you what our third turn was.
But it sure as hell wasnít right.
Three Turns At Square Is Just Three Too Many
In yesterday's News appeared the story of a pleasant little incident, which on reflection seems a bit too pleasant.
Grinning, the cop at Independence Square approached a Michigan automobile stopped at the red light. He spoke to the driver cordially, bade him hearty welcome to the Friendly City, and went on:
"I've seen you turn right at this corner three times in the last five minutes. And I don't think I can let you do it again."
A charming world, masters, a charming world, just brimming over with brotherly understanding and love. But in our usual jaundiced way, we are minded to carp about it.
However did it happen that the Michiganer was allowed to turn three times? The answer is easy. It's the good old Charlotte custom. These out-of-town cars continually make turns at Independence Square, though the signs say plainly that they can't. And the cops almost never do anything about it, even though many of the cars turn rapidly.
Yet, it is plain as plain can be that every time it happens the pedestrians who stream confidently forward as the green light shows, under the delusion that they have the unquestioned right of way, are greatly endangered.
Shall somebody have to be killed or crippled to drive home the obvious fact that this is running the Friendly City play a little into the ground?
Some More Objections To Johnson's Rubber Plan
Yesterday we discussed at some length General Johnson's proposal that we make ourselves independent of Oriental rubber by developing plantations in Brazil and other parts of South America. But space would not allow the detailing of all of even the most salient objections to that scheme.
The General's proposal is essentially a proposal for autarchy, which is Adolf Hitler's pet economic scheme. Merely, Ironpants wants to confine it to America, while Hitler wants to extend it over half the world. Carried to its logical conclusion, it means a complete collapse of our world trade, something for which American markets certainly give no prospect of compensating us.
That is not to suggest that it is not desirable for us to encourage the production of rubber in South America insofar as it is economically practicable. But there is no good ground for the General's own allegation that we are being unmercifully bled by the British-Dutch rubber monopoly. Fifty years ago, before the English and Dutch began to dominate the field, rubber sold for 69 cents a pound, and rubber of a very inferior grade at that. In 1934 it fell to below five cents and it is currently selling for around 18 cents a pound. The average yield per acre is 400 pounds of dry latex, which means that the average gross return per acre at the present price is about $72. Considering the cost of its production, that is a little better than cotton-farming but not much.
Certainly there is nothing here to suggest that normal economic motives would bring our capitalists to expend the billions necessary to bringing at least 4,500,000 South American acres (the area necessary if we are to be independent of the Orient in wartime, as General Johnson specifies) under cultivation. And that is especially true in view of the fact that as South American production increased, the world price would inevitably be depressed, just as the world price of Southern cotton has been depressed by increasing foreign production.
Even Rights Of Persons Are Limited In Streets
In his letter relating to parking meters published on this page yesterday, Mr. C. E. Boone, Membership Director of the Carolina Motor Club, said, among other things:
"In your editorial you state that there is no 'right' to use the public streets as a garage space, hence neither should the pedestrians be allowed to stop on the sidewalks to even carry on a conversation."
But the conclusion seems to us to be a non sequitur, for it overlooks the distinction between persons and property.
And for that matter, even the personal rights of pedestrians are obviously subject to rigid limitations. In all the principal cities of the world he is denied the right to loiter on the street at congested or lonely spots. Try exercising your "right" to park your person on the sidewalk at Times Square, or at State and Madison, or in Myers Park at midnight, and you are pretty certain to end in the hoosegow. And, of course, the pedestrian who undertook to exercise his "right" to park his property on the sidewalk would probably promptly land in the booby-hatch.
We are far from trying to launch any campaign to banish parking of motor cars in the street. The custom is solidly established, and we think should be allowed insofar as it is compatible with the public interest. Nor do we hold any brief for parking meters. We are merely curious about them.
But to arrive at any rational conclusion in a dispute it is essential first of all to fix clearly in mind the basic principles. And one of the basic principles here is plainly that parking in the public street is a privilege subject to limitations, and not a right.
Site Ed. Note: For more on this evolving concept of parking one's person and property on the sidesands and public ways, see the note accompanying "Work or Eat", September 22, 1940. We shall await some other day to impart to you all the many travails and lonesome valleys which we have explored over the concept of parking privileges--especially as they relate to those scantily available in Pulpit Hill and, later, in San Francis-co. About all we can say really about all of that anyway is, you know, watch 'em, but whatever you do, don't follow 'em.
Site Ed. Note: This little piece explains quite a bit as to why it was that by early 1941 a mutual alliance pact with Japan was thought propitious by the Nazi.
Germany's Economic Case Makes It Probable
The rumors to the effect that the Allies are preparing for large land offensives against Germany in the Spring continue to multiply. There is a story that General Weygand will ferry a large army, made up mainly of British and French colonials, across from Syria to Salonika in April, and strike northward through the Danube Valley. Another has it that Mussolini will place a large Italian army on the Austrian border, not so much with a view to actual operations as to compelling Germany to keep several divisions there to watch him. Still another runs to the effect that the Allies are recruiting an army, to be made up of Canadians, French, and Swedes, and to be landed at Murmansk under the guns of the British navy, in order at once to relieve Finland and open the way into the backdoor of Poland.
To take any of these reports as established fact would be rash. The Allied command naturally is not revealing its plans to anyone. And all these rumors represent mere deductions on the part of observers from preparations here and there which obviously mean something greater than just local defense is afoot.
But there is good reason to suspect that some or all these offenses may really be looked for.
Germany's air attacks on British commerce probably have not been as successful as the Nazis claim. But it is likely that they have been more successful than the British admit. And there are signs that the Chamberlain Government is growing increasingly dubious of the value of the waiting-and-blockade tactics of Lidell Hart. The removal of Hore-Belisha, a great admirer of Hart's, was one such sign. And in their last speeches, both Churchill and Chamberlain have hinted at taking the offensive away from Germany.
On the other hand, a successful land campaign in either the southeast or northeast might well put a quick end to the war. For Germany is in no position to stand large-scale operations long. Despite her blustering, she continues unable to get enough oil out of Rumania even for her present needs. For years she has neglected her railroads in favor of armament--had 4,000 fewer locomotives and 80,000 fewer freight cars in 1938 than in 1929. And now she's paying the piper. German rolling stock is insufficient to carry the heavy traffic, and efforts at renting 10,000 cars from Belgium have failed. She is having particular difficulty in getting out oil from Rumania, since her Rumanian rolling stock will not fit German road beds. Prospect for 1940 is that she won't be able to get out even the 1,820,000 metric tons of oil already contracted for with Rumania. And to add to her difficulties, she is experiencing a coal shortage, in spite of the gain of the Polish fields--because of the great consumption in the making of synthetic gasoline and other Ersatz products.
Obviously, it is more sensible for the Allies to strike her now than to wait until she has had time to remedy these troubles, and perhaps to bring the Rumanian oil fields completely under her control.
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