The Charlotte News

Saturday, April 6, 1940


Site Ed. Note: It is true that we have not heard any good WPA jokes in awhile.

Mae West, on the other hand, and her functional equivalent, we seem to read not quite about almost every day.

We don't know, but maybe the two high chairs in question were home and mobile thrones for Emperor Norton. (Or, perhaps one was for his buddy Cramden.)

In any event, the work progressed obviously with meticulous care worthy of the finest craftsmen tooling rich, Corinthian leather; hence the large contingent of workmen and extraordinary cost for the time.

The chairs were so high, they say, that when Mae stood atop them, she could tow the line.

Once, Lyndon Johnson, while running for Vice-President, stood atop a giant chair next to the railroad tracks in Thomasville, N.C., the Chair Capital of the World. He gave a speech. We don't know if he mentioned the Alliance for Progress and the expansion thereby of foreign trade markets, but probably.

In 1850, incidentally, we don’t know what the percentages were on the answers provided that query, but we understand that in the year 2000, 95% of those asked responded by saying, "No say." At least, that is what the census takers recorded as having been said. The other 5% said nothing.

Youth's Need? Always and ever the same… Answer in the above, and below.

Meanwhile, it was forty years ago today, June 1, 1967.

Feel any older?

Two High Chairs

A Classic Revival In Jokes About WPA

You don't hear as many WPA jokes as you used to. For that matter, you don't hear as many Mae West stories, though we think it's for an exactly different reason. Mae's on the way out. And WPA, or some form of it, we're afraid, is here to stay.

And every time we talk ourselves into accepting the institution of work relief, finding something good about it, such as the eagerness of most men and women to do a day's work for a day's pay, and thinking progressive thoughts about it, such as the opportunity of tackling through work relief vast improvements which would never be feasible otherwise--

Every time we get to feeling more or less kindly toward WPA, that is, something happens like this incident of the two high chairs. It is likely to become a classic argument against the frittering of work relief, an illustration of trying to drag a job out at the Government's expense instead of trying to get it done.

How the project of repairing the two high chairs originated, or whose high chairs they were, we don't know. It happened in San Francisco, and testimony by a WPA timekeeper before a committee of the State Legislature was that--

"It took thirteen cabinetmakers' helpers, five cabinetmakers, two carpenters and five painters to do the job. They put in 194 hours of work. At the prevailing wage rate that would cost about $190."

This was the project of repairing the two high chairs. We have not the heart to say more about it.

Tobey's Pick

That Potato Gets Hotter And Hotter In His Hand

The Hon. Charles H. Tobey, Senator in Congress from New Hampshire, certainly picked a hot potato when he set out to do some work for the good old Republican Party to which he militantly belongs. He picked on the census--busily tried to set up the impression in the country that the New Deal had turned it into an inquisition and a means of robbing the people of their liberties.

But the acting head of the Census Bureau proceeded to highlight the Hon. Tobey's claim that the rules had been changed and made vicious. He quoted him chapter and verse to show that the rules are identical with those used in 1930 when the Republicans were in charge.

And as if that were not enough, now comes a University of Chicago professor, who has been looking into the record, to show that the census has often asked much more personal questions than those about which Tobey has been hollering.

In 1850, for instance, it wanted to know:

"Are you deaf, dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, a pauper or a convict?"

In 1860, it wanted to know all about your real and personal possessions, including mortgages, bonds, stocks, notes, plate, livestock and jewelry. And in 1890 it was heavily interested in the family diseases. "Have you ever had measles, and if so how many?" cracked a humorist of the time in reference to it.

The heavy silence is the Hon. Tobey trying to think up an answer.

Site Ed. Note: In 1990, they were wont to ask instead: "Have you crack, and if so, how many?" referenced a measly humorist cracker.

Nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiae fuit, he said.

We said, Tactus non a valde fossor vacuus sine modicum dementiae facit.

Youth's Need*

How A National Poll Compares With Our Own

The First Presbyterian Church in Washington, N. J. sends us the final tabulation on the answers to the question: "What, in your opinion, is the most fundamental need in the lives of young people of America today?"

The question was sent only to so-called "prominent people": professional men and women, business men, magazine publishers and editors, newspaper publishers and editors, columnists, authors, public officials, educators, religious leaders--in every section of the United States. But the editors of The News, instead of trying to answer the question themselves, passed it along to its readers in general, and asked them to answer it in the letter column on this page.

It is interesting to see how the answers of those queried by the church stacks up with the answers we got.

Of those who answered the church's question, 25.6 thought the greatest need of young people was more religion and appreciation for spiritual values. President Roosevelt joined with them in thinking substantially the same thing. Fully 75 per cent of our letter writers thought that.

The second largest contingent of those who wrote to The News thought better home environment was what was most needed. But only eight per cent of those who wrote to the church thought in that fashion. Opportunity for jobs and security got the vote of 18.3 of those who wrote the church; 21 per cent thought more education was the answer; 15.5 felt young people need more personal initiative and character; 11.5 more loyalty to American democracy. All of these answers were made in The News, too; but in every case in much smaller proportion.

What it proves we don't know. Maybe that there is a wide spread between the prevailing opinions of the run of the people and the "prominent." Maybe that this remains an unusually religious section of the country. Maybe something else. We'll let the reader decide for himself.


Some Light On The Case Of The Cotton Farmer

One common explanation of the plight of the Southern cotton farmer is to say that his foreign market has dwindled drastically solely because of New Deal policies in the last eight years. But if the figures of the U.S. Census Bureau’s bulletin, "Cotton Production and Distribution," are accurate, that seems to require some amending.

Not that exports of cotton haven’t dwindled; they have. As these figures (in bales) indicate:

1933.…………………………………………………. 8,419,399

1934………………………………………………….. 7,534,415

1935... ………………………………………………... 4,798,539

1936... ………………………………………………... 5,972,566

1937... …………………………………………………5,440,044

1938.………………………………………………….. 5,598,415

1939.………………………………………………….. 3,326,840

But the same thing went on in the first three years, 1927-28-29. In the first-named year exports reached the grand total of 10,926,614 bales. The next year they were down to 7,542,439, and in 1929 they came back only to 8,043,855 bales.

Moreover, the average for the four years, 1921-24, is very close to being identical with that for years 1935-38.

What we plainly have here, in short, is a process which has been going on for a long while. Source of the trouble is, in all likelihood, the great expansion in acreage which started in the first World War and kept on throughout the 1920's, until it had reached the astronomical figure of 45,000,000 acres. The explanation of that, in turn, was probably the demand created by the rapid multiplication of cotton mills in countries which had not hitherto had them. Japan, for example, had only 3,814,000 spindles in 1920, and 12,550,000 by 1938. India leaped to 10,054,000; Brazil to 2,765,000.

But these spindles manufactured goods of an almost unimaginably cheap quality out of cheap cotton. As long as the United States was the only source of supply it perforce got the business. But inevitably a price resistance was set up, inevitably the new mills began to look around for and encourage new and cheaper sources of supply. Moreover, their competition ultimately junked many spindles which had once provided a certain market for Southern cotton of good grade, especially in England. In 1920, the United Kingdom had 57,116,000 spindles, in 1939 it had only 36,3322,000.

Rising to the new market, the South captured it at first, could not hold it because the new mills sought and found new and cheaper sources of supply; worse, as the new market was lost, the old also began to dwindle because of the competition of the new mills.

The New Deal has probably served to accelerate the process--simply by jacking up the price of American cotton at a time when its natural level might have enabled it to compete better. But that it originated the evil is plainly to place all the blame where it doesn't belong.

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